Libya election materials destroyed in Ajdabiya fire

A man holds up a burnt ballot paper as Libyan firemen extinguish a fire at a warehouse that was used by the election committee for storing materials for the upcoming General National Congress elections in the eastern city of Ajdabiya on 5 July 2012
Image caption More than 2,600 candidates are competing for 120 seats in 69 constituencies

A fire has destroyed election materials in Libya, days ahead of the first elections since Col Muammar Gaddafi was toppled as leader last year.

Libyan officials said the fire had destroyed ballot boxes and papers at a depot in the eastern city of Ajdabiya.

A security source said the fire is being investigated as a suspected arson attack, according to Reuters.

It comes less than a week after the ransacking of electoral commission offices in Benghazi, north of Ajdabiya.

An unnamed electoral official said the fire in Ajdabiya happened before sunrise on Thursday, according to AFP news.

"The fire happened before sunrise. All the material, including ballot boxes and ballots, was destroyed," the official was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the head of the electoral commission in Benghazi, Jamal Bugrin said voting may be delayed in that district if replacement materials could not be sourced, said AFP.

Pro-autonomy leaders in eastern Libya earlier called for a boycott of the election.

They said eastern Libya should be given a larger share of seats in the new 200-member legislature.

The country's electoral law allows 60 seats to be taken by candidates in eastern Libya.

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