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Libya deputy PM escapes assassination attempt

Sadiq Abdulkarim survives unhurt after unidentified gunmen fire "barrage of bullets" into his car in Tripoli.

Last updated: 29 Jan 2014 17:15
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Abdulkarim said he was attacked while en route to the General National Congress assembly [EPA]

Libya's deputy prime minister has survived unhurt after gunmen fired on his car in the capital of Tripoli, an attack that reflects the chaotic state of the North African nation two years after Muammar Gaddafi's fall.

Deputy Prime Minister Sadiq Abdulkarim, who also serves as interim interior minister, said he was attacked on Wednesday while en route to the General National Congress assembly from the Interior Ministry.

"I tell those who did it that Libya is bigger than you and Libya's men will not be threatened by bullets, guns or rockets," Abdulkarim said in a brief televised statement later on Wednesday.

The state news agency said Abdulkarim, who appeared healthy in his television appearance, had not been wounded in the attack.

According to the LANA news agency, "unknown gunmen fired a barrage of bullets" at the deputy prime minister's car while he was inside.

The Libyan government has been struggling to contain dozens of armed groups who kept their guns after the NATO-backed revolt against Gaddafi in 2011. The identity of Abdulkarim's attackers was not immediately clear.

Deteriorating security

Libya's difficulties in asserting state authority have worried Western powers, who fear violence in the OPEC country could spill over to its North African neighbours.

Parts of Libya are already effectively under the control of armed groups, for whom the country's fledgling army and police are no match.

Security has deteriorated in recent months, with car bombs and assassinations become part of daily life in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The attack on Abdulkarim comes less than three weeks after the assassination of Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al-Droui, who was shot in Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte on January 12.

Meanwhile, an armed blockade of three major eastern ports by a group demanding a greater share of oil wealth and more regional autonomy has choked off 600,000 barrels per day of oil exports.

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