Libyan state ‘loses control’ of most ministries

A fighter from Zintan brigade watches as smoke rises after rockets fired by one of Libya's militias struck and ignited a fuel tank in Tripoli August 2, 2014.

A fighter from Zintan brigade watches as smoke rises after rockets fired by one of Libya’s militias struck and ignited a fuel tank in Tripoli August 2, 2014.

Libya’s transitional government announced overnight it had lost control of the majority of ministries in Tripoli, a day after a Libyan militia took over an abandoned annex of the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital.

In a statement, the government said armed forces had surrounded the government headquarters, preventing workers from entering and threatening to kill ministers and their deputies.

It also said gunmen had directly threatened a great number of state employees, attacked them and burned down their houses.

The government, which along with the newly elected parliament relocated to the remote eastern city of Tobruk, said it is now conducting duties outside the capital.

Separately, Libya’s elected parliament, the House of Representatives, on Monday asked Abdullah al-Thinni to form new government, a lawmaker said.

Thinni had been prime minister of the oil producer since March but his position has been challenged by a rival parliament refusing the recognize the House of Representatives.

Libya has been rocked by the worst factional violence since the 2011 fall of Moammar Qaddafi, and a Misrata-led alliance, part of it which is Islamist-leaning, now controls the capital.

On Sunday, an Islamist-allied militia took over an abandoned annex of the American Embassy in Tripoli. The militia, however, did not break into the main compound.

A commander for the “Dawn of Libya” militia told the Associated Press on Monday was guarding the U.S. Embassy and its residential compound.

The agency quoted a U.S. State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity as saying the department is seeking additional information but believed the embassy compound “remains secure.”

The breach of a deserted U.S. diplomatic post – including images of men earlier swimming in the compound’s algae-filled pools – likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled Qaddafi.

 
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