Several gunmen broke into a luxury hotel in the Libyan city of Tripoli after detonating a car bomb outside the building.

Latest reports suggest that the attackers have blown themselves up inside the hotel.According to local media, Prime Minister Hassi was the main target of the attack on the Corinthia.

The reported number of casualties range from three to eight, and many more have been reportedly wounded.

It was earlier stated that Islamic State militants were holding 12 foreign diplomats hostage at the hotel, which is popular with local and foreign officials as well as journalists.

“They ascended to the 21st floor, which houses foreign diplomats and representatives from foreign companies,” the source said, adding that the attackers had “taken 12 foreigners hostage.”

According to SITE, IS fighters dubbed the operation “Battle of Abu Anas al-Libi”. Abu Anas Libi was an alleged al-Qaeda member suspected in the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. He was captured by US forces in Tripoli in October 2013 and died in a US hospital earlier in January.

Eyetwitnesses report gunmen are holed up in the 20th floor of the Corinthia Hotel, have taken at least five hostages. According to local TV channel al-Nabaa, “senior officials” are inside the hotel. Reuters reports citin a security source that Prime Minister of the Tripoli Government Omar Hassi was also in the Corinthia hotel during the attack.

Libyan security forces surrounded the hotel. One gunman has been already arrested. “Three gunmen who are believed to have carried out a car explosion in the car park of the Corinthia hotel have been trapped by our security forces,” Reuters reported quoting security spokesman Essam Naas.

The confrontation began Tuesday morning after masked gunmen used a car bomb as a diversion and got into the hotel killing three guards. Three Filipino women were wounded by smashed window glass.

#Libya: 2 suicide bombers target checkpoint near hotel in #Tripoli to avenge death of militant acc @LibyaAlHurraTV pic.twitter.com/0L4Vjk3FVn

Meanwhile, at least 18 people were killed and 44 others wounded in clashes in Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi, media report citing medical sources. According to the reports, the warplanes of Libyan army were also seen bombing the areas in Benghazi occupied by Islamists.

Libya’s National Army has begun new assaults against armed islamist groups near the oil ports in the country’s eastern region.

The clashes continue despite the peace talks started in Geneva which aimed at resolving the North African nation’s political crisis.

Libya has been in a state of social and political turmoil following break out of civil war in 2011, following the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi overthrow. Several militia groups are now involved in a struggle for power.

According to UN data, the war has claimed the lives of thousands of people, triggering a grave humanitarian crisis. Estimates suggest that more than 120,000 people have been displaced, suffering from shortages of food and clean water.


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