Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Cyrenaica Chief Survives Assassination Bid

Al-Bayda and Izaldeen Ahmed Moktar in Sirte — The head of Cyrenaica's self-proclaimed government escaped assassination Sunday (January 12th) in al-Bayda.

A man knocked on Abd Rabbo Abdul Hamid al-Barasi's door after evening prayers. When al-Barasi opened, the attacker tried to shoot him. The assailant's tribe handed him over to security authorities later that night.

Al-Barasi serves as the unrecognised prime minister of the eastern Libya region, which has been pushing for a federalist system.

The attempt on his life came shortly after gunmen assassinated Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al-Droui.

The Sunday killing in Sirte was the first high-profile murder of a government leader since the revolution.

"Islamist groups, or what is called Ansar al-Sharia, are standing as an obstacle to the work of official security services," Colonel Khaled al-Akari of the Sirte-based Zawiya Martyrs Battalion told Magharebia.

On the other hand, Ali al-Ghemati, the 33-year-old director of the Office of Co-operation and Communication of the Sirte local council said, "The lack of security and safety in the city, indifference, and the lack of deterrence are the real killers."

"There is also the negativity of people as if they are satisfied with the situation in the city, as we haven't seen any demonstrations against this unfortunate situation," al-Ghemati added.

At a press conference on Monday, al-Barasi described his attacker as a deceived person "exploited by the entities that all Libyans know".

"They are the ones who carry weapons; they are the parties that have armed militias, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar al-Sharia, and all those who don't want Libya's interests," he added. "I expressly accuse them unless it's proven otherwise."

"They are the entities that are incapable of dialogue or achievement and that don't know what Libya's interests are. They only know how to kill so they can do whatever they want in Libya," he noted.

Al-Barasi expressed his hope that the incident would be the key to solving the mystery of assassinations.

"All those who speak about Libya's policies and about acts done by certain parties and armed groups are either assassinated or threatened," the politician said.

In response to a question from Magharebia about the ability of the executive bureau to stop assassinations in Cyrenaica, al-Barasi said: "We have co-operative revolutionaries and dignitaries who are prepared to sacrifice anything."

"Security has become the main concern for Libyans," the regional leader stated.

Before the press conference, a number of dignitaries visited al-Barasi at his home to condemn the assassination attempt.

"Libya is wide open," said Ibrahim Bouhrib, a dignitary of al-Barassa tribe. "Therefore, we assure everyone that even if one of us gets killed every day, we in Cyrenaica won't give up on our principles and we won't relinquish Libya."

"We can sit on the same table in Libya, but not through assassinations, threats, strife or money. Cyrenaica is not for sale," Bouhrib added.

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