A prominent hotel in Tripoli was attacked on Tuesday, even as Libyan peace talks continue at the United Nations in Geneva. This is the most violent in a string of Western-focused attacks in the area. The luxurious Corinthia Hotel is used as international offices by many governments and corporations. The UN has used it several times for workshops for their United Nations Support Mission Libya meetings.
Reports say that the attackers set off a car bomb prior to entering the lobby, and then opening fire, killing at least eight people. Of these, five were foreigners. Two were women, one was a security guard and two were attackers, said Tripoli security force member Mahmoud Hamza to al-Naba, a local television station. It has also been reported that three security guards may have been killed in the car bombing before the attackers entered the hotel, but it is unclear if these were included in the eight or not.
A Twitter account linked to ISIS has taken credit for the attack, suggesting that it was an act of revenge on the West for the killing of Abu Anas al-Liby. Liby was a jihadist who had been connected with the East African bombing of two United States embassies in 1998. Liby had been captured and was scheduled to stand trial, but died in a U.S. hospital just days before his trial began. There is some question whether ISIS was truly responsible for the attack due to there being little knowledge of the group’s presence in Libya.
This violent attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli occurs while peace talks are being conducted at the UN. The issues being discussed at the UN are complicated and the progress that has been made is minimal. It is uncertain if the heightening violence in Libya will directly affect the talks, or if accelerating the talks would help deter what seems like a trending outbreak of violence.
Managers at the hotel told the press that it received a warning a few days ago that they should empty the hotel of guests. Reports indicate that the hotel was relatively empty and that this may have attributed to there not being a larger number of casualties. Guests told the press that shooting could be heard throughout the hotel, and that after it began, some guests ran through the back of the building and outside via the underground parking garage. The hotel was locked down shortly after their exit.
European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini has publicly condemned the attacks, expressing concern that these continued attacks may “deal blows” to the peace talks underway. This string of attacks is part of a continued instability that has troubled Libya since the overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in October of 2011. The nation has become a group of territories ruled by local militias with several unsuccessful attempts having been made at forming a unified government.
The last attack in Tripoli is the worst in the latest string of violence in the area and is without question a topic of discussion at the peace talks at the UN. Amidst the progress they have made in these talks, addressing this current push of violence in Libya will need to be addressed if they intend to unite this nation that has been unstable since Gaddafi was forced from power.
By Joel Wickwire