On Sunday, an incident involving the motorcade of the Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord, Fathi Bashagha, sparked gunfire, and quickly stirred local and international reactions that condemned the targeting and called for a speedy investigation of the incident.
Initially, a source told “218218News” hat Bashagha “survived an assassination attempt,” while his convoy was passing on the coastal road towards Janzour.
The source explained that armed persons traveling in an armored car fired a hail of bullets at Bashagha’s convoy, which led to the injury of one of the minister’s bodyguards. Afterwards, the car was chased, two of the gunmen were arrested and a third was killed, while the minister was not harmed.
Interior Ministry: Assassination Attempt
It was not long before the Government of National Accord (GNA) Ministry of Interior published a statement of the details of the incident, and said that it took place at three in the afternoon while he was returning to his residence in Janzour, and described the incident as an “assassination attempt.”
In its statement, the Ministry stated that “an armored Toyota 27 opened fire at the convoy of the Minister of Interior using automatic weapons, and the security personnel in charge of guarding the minister dealt with the car and arrested the armed group after fire exchange which led to the injury of the guards accompanying the minister and the arrest of two of the attackers as well as the death of the third.
A Different Narrative
For its part, the Stability Support Authority presented a completely different story to the statement of the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord, and said in a statement that its personnel were exposed to a “shooting incident on the coastal road of Janzour while returning from their assigned work, as a vehicle belonging to the agency coincided with the passing of a convoy of the Minister of Interior. Immediately, the minister’s guards unlawfully fired at the armored vehicle belonging to the Authority, which led to the death of one of the personnel from the city of Zawiya and the injury of one of his comrades.”
“What happened was a poor coordination and misbehavior of the Interior Minister’s guards,” the Authority said, denying any attempt to assassinate the minister, pledging to pursue those involved in firing on the car in the law and in accordance with the legislation in force that regulates the work of institutions in the state, away from “false allegations and media propaganda.”
As part of the reactions to the incident, the US ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, expressed the anger of the United States over the attack that targeted Bashagha.
According to a statement by the US embassy, the ambassador spoke by phone with Bashagha, and said, “Minister Bashagha’s focus on ending the influence of rogue militias enjoys our full support,” calling for a speedy investigation to bring those responsible to justice.
The statement indicated that Norland offered his sympathy to the Bashagha guard member, who was injured in the accident.
The Minister of Defense of the Government of National Accord, Salah Al-Namroush, agreed with the Minister of Justice to assign the chief prosecutor in northern Tripoli to investigate the incident of targeting Bashagha’s convoy.
The Ministry of Defense media stated, in a statement, that Al-Namroush had also assigned a force from the Tripoli Military District to impose security and prevent any security breaches.
The Ministry affirmed that no one is above the law, and anyone who undermines security or infringes the law and state institutions will be held accountable.
Call for Restraint
The new Head of the Presidential Council, Mohammed Menfi, and the head of the Unity Government, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, strongly denounced the incident to which the Bashagha convoy was exposed, and called on “the judicial and police authorities urgently to open a fair and transparent investigation into the circumstances of the incident and prosecute the perpetrators and to assure that all those involved receive punishment.”
The statement also called on “all parties at this critical stage to exercise restraint and strive to work together to reach the truth, and to hold accountable all those who violate the law, through the competent judicial and security authorities.”
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Libya, Jan Kubis, strongly condemned the “serious security incident targeting Bashagha” and expressed his deep concern about this incident.
“These reckless actions pose a threat to stability and security, and aim to disrupt the political process and other efforts to support Libya and its people,” Kubis said in a statement.
Kubis called for “a full, prompt and transparent investigation into the incident, which confirms once again how important it is to keep all weapons only in the hands of the legitimate authorities.”