On Tuesday, gunmen attacked UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni in Tobruk, the seat of the nation’s parliament, another in a series of terrorist acts in the chaotic country.
“We were surprised by a lot of bullets… Thank God, we managed to escape” he told media after reaching safety.
Parliament Speaker Aqila Selah asked the Prime Minister to leave the session when a large crowd gathered outside the complex where the parliament meets began threatening to storm the building.
Five unmarked cars intercepted al-Thinni’s motorcade as he left. According to reports, a gunman in one of the vehicles opened fire, wounding one of al-Thinni’s bodyguards. The rest of his security detail was unharmed.
The Libyan government has not said which group they believe was behind the attack, only calling the gunmen “paid criminals” who previously tried storming the building.
Abdullah al-Thinni leads a UN-backed government, which is not supported by much of the population. As a result, the government was forced to surrender the nation’s capital, Tripoli, in 2014 and work from the eastern part of the country. He has vowed to take the city back, but he has been unable to as of yet.
Since the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorial regime in 2011, Libya has been plunged into a state of chaos and civil war. Various groups are jockeying for control of the North African country, including radical Islamist militias with ties to ISIS and other global terror organizations.
The United States aided the collapse of the Gaddafi regime by leading NATO airstrikes in the country, in an attempt to help pro-democracy rebels take control. Effectively, however, the civil war only resulted in the current power vacuum.
The chaos has distinctly harmed U.S. interests, allowing terrorists to flow into Tunisia, one of the United States’ partners in the region, as well as allowing ISIS to gain a foothold in North Africa.
In late 2012, Libyan radicals stormed the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, murdered Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, US Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, and injured ten other American nationals.
Although the events surrounding the latest terror attack remain unclear, one thing is clear: The chaos in Libya will not subside any time soon, and more attacks such as this one are on the way.