Militants take 12 foreigners hostage in Tripoli hotel

TRIPOLI – Unidentified militants have taken around a dozen foreign nationals hostage in a prominent Tripoli hotel after storming it earlier in the day, a hotel source said Tuesday.

"Five militants, including a black man speaking an African language, stormed the Corinthia Hotel amid heavy gunfire," the source told The Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

"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."

Earlier Tuesday, a car bomb exploded outside Tripoli's Corinthia Hotel – a preferred venue for high-profile meetings and conferences – in an attack later claimed by a group linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

At least two people were killed and several others injured by the bombing, a medical source said.

Security official Essam al-Naas told AA that police personnel were besieging the militants inside the hotel, where they were "trying to arrest them."

Libya has remained in a state of political turmoil since the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Over the past year, the conflict has evolved into a violent power struggle between two rival seats of government.

Vying for legislative authority are an internationally-recognized House of Representatives, which convenes in Tobruk, and the Islamist-led General National Congress, which – even though its mandate ended last year – continues to convene in Tripoli.

The two assemblies back two rival governments respectively headquartered in Tobruk and Tripoli. 

While the House of Representatives is supported by much of the Libyan army and troops loyal to former army commander Khalifa Haftar, the General National Congress is backed by Islamist militias that helped topple Gaddafi in 2011.

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