The powerful interior minister of Libya’s unity government survived an assassination attempt Sunday on a highway near the capital Tripoli, an official from his inner circle told AFP.
Fathi Bashagha’s convoy “was fired on from an armored car while he was on the highway. His police escort returned fire. Two of the assailants were arrested and a third is in hospital,” the source said, adding that “the minister is fine.”
The same source said that Bashagha, a heavyweight in Libyan politics, was returning from a routine visit to a new security unit supervised by his department.
Since 2018, the 58-year-old has served as interior minister in the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord in the North African country and has staked his reputation on battling corruption.
Since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been riven by violence.
Two rival governments, backed by a host of militias and foreign powers, have fought for control of the oil-rich nation.
Under U.N.-led peace efforts following an October ceasefire last year, Bashagha had been seen as a favorite to lead a new interim government.
The post finally went to the 61-year-old engineer, businessman Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who has called for reconstruction, democracy and reunification in Libya.