Libya PM office attacked by gunmen in Tripoli

The whereabouts of PM Abdurrahim al-Keib is unknown but his media adviser said he is safe

Former Libyan rebels have launched an attack on the prime minister's office in the capital Tripoli, leaving at least one guard dead, officials say.

They said about 200 armed men, some carrying mortars, tried to storm the building but were repelled by security.

Four others were wounded in the clashes, which lasted several hours.

The attackers - ex-rebels who fought to topple Col Gaddafi last year - were demanding pay-outs promised under a reward scheme suspended last year.

Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib is safe, one of his advisers, Ashur Shamis, told the BBC. Sources said he had been in the building at the time.

Scheme suspended

A witness said pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns surrounded the building on Tuesday and shots were heard. Some men tried to enter the premises.

Libyan government spokesman Nasir al-Mani said the former rebels had been armed with "light to medium weapons" including kalashnikovs, machine guns and rocket launchers.

Most people inside the building fled, including the finance minister and the deputy prime minister.

Mr Mani said one security guard was killed and four others - including one of the assailants - were wounded in the attack.

Witnesses said the attack was being carried out by militia from Yafran, a town populated by members of the Berber ethnic minority located about 100km (60 miles) south-west of Tripoli.

The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says that as well as the cash hand-outs, the rebels are demanding that those wounded in the uprising last year are given medical treatment abroad.

The reward scheme was suspended last month amid allegations of fraud.

Our correspondent says that the building is no stranger to attacks - it is the second of its kind in the last two months - but that the latest one seemed more forceful.

The Libyan government has been trying to encourage thousands of militia members who took up arms against Col Gaddafi to disarm, amid concerns about stability.

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