Omar al-Hassi, head of the Government of National Salvation and leader of the Libya Dawn coalition that controls a majority of the country, including Tripoli, accused a rival government of taking Egypt's help to conduct Tuesday’s attack on the Corinthia Hotel. On Tuesday, militants affiliated to the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 10 people, including an American and a French national.
“We have seen initial reports on Facebook and social media from some sites that they are saying they are from ISIS and are claiming the attack. Following up with our own intelligence services, we have seen that these social media are not authentic sources,” Hassi said, according to Bloomberg, adding: “We do believe this action was taken by the Haftar government with the possible aid of Egyptian intelligence, in an operation to try to show that there is instability in the capital, where we have provided stability for the residents, and to give the impression that terrorist organizations are able to operate in Tripoli.”
Hassi’s government is currently fighting the regime of General Khalifa Haftar who controls the eastern part of the country. The country has been in political turmoil since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Several tribes are looking to gain power while two rival governments and parliaments preside over the country’s eastern and western regions.
"Criminal gangs took innocent lives from foreigners and Libyans,” al-Hassi told Bloomberg, adding: “These foreign visitors were here to help lend their expertise on the rebuilding of Libya and to give us from their experience.”
The American killed in the attack was identified as David Berry, a contractor, CNN reported, citing Cliff Taylor, CEO of Crucible, a private security firm that employed Berry. The FBI will open an investigation into the incident, the CNN report added.
Tripoli-based militants affiliated to the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack to avenge the 2013 kidnapping of an al Qaeda operative, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Al-Ruqai died earlier this month from complications during a liver surgery in a New York prison, where he was awaiting trial for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Two of the militants and a security official were among those killed in the attack, along with three guards, who died when a car bomb exploded outside the hotel, according to Reuters. Essam Naas, a security spokesperson, said that the other foreign nationals killed in the attack were Asian.
"The attackers opened fire inside the hotel," Omar Khadrawi, head of Tripoli security, told Reuters adding: "When the attackers were completely surrounded by the security forces, one of them detonated a grenade, but we don't know if it was deliberate."
However, AP reported, also citing Naas, that three of the foreign nationals killed were from the former Soviet Union. "The operation is over," Naas told AP, adding that the roads to the hotel were cordoned off for security reasons.