LIBYA

Libya deputy industry minister Hassan al-Droui killed by gunmen

Hassan al-Drowi, ambushed by alleged Islamists as he was driving in his hometown, is the first transitional government official to be killed since Gaddafi's 2011 fall

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 7:49pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 10:58pm
 

Gunmen assassinated Libya’s deputy industry minister as he drove home from shopping in the coastal city of Sirte late on Saturday in an attack security officials blamed on hardline Islamist militants.

Libya is still plagued by widespread violence and targeted killings two years after the civil war ousted Muammar Gaddafi, with militants, militia gunmen and former rebels often resorting to force in order to impose demands on the fragile government.

The minister, Hassan al-Drowi, was shot several times, a senior security official said, asking not to be identified.

“They opened fire from another car while he was driving. He was shot multiple times,” the official said. “Later, they found explosives attached to his car. The theory is, the bomb failed, so they shot him instead.”

The official blamed Islamist militants who have been trying to extend their influence in Sirte, which has been more stable recently than the coastal capital of Tripoli, about 460 kilometres to the west, or the eastern city of Benghazi.

An official at the city’s Ibn Sina hospital confirmed the deputy minister’s death and added that he had suffered bullet wounds to several parts of his body.

The identity of the shooters was not immediately known, but al-Drowi’s death was the first assassination of a member of the transitional government since the fall of Gaddafi.

Drowi was a former member of the National Transitional Council, the political arm of the rebellion that brought an end to Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.

He was appointed deputy minister for industry by the transitional government’s first prime minister, Abdelrahim al-Kib, and kept his job when Prime Minister Ali Zeidan took over.

Sirte, the victim’s hometown, was the last bastion of Gaddafi loyalists in the war, and the strongman ruler was was killed there on October 20, 2011.

Zeidan’s central government, weakened by political infighting and with only nascent armed forces, is struggling to wrest control back from areas where militias are still dominant.

For six months, armed protesters have controlled key oil terminal ports in the east of the country to demand more political autonomy and a greater share of the Opec country’s petroleum wealth.

In Benghazi, the armed forces have been fighting to control the influence of Ansar al-Sharia, a hardline Islamist group Washington last week designated a terrorist organisation.

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