Gunmen assassinate Libya’s deputy industry minister

Hassan al Drowi was shot and killed as he drove home from a shopping trip in Sirte on Saturday

Libya's flag flutters as security forces gather in Tripoli in September 2013 in preparation for a crackdown on crime and criminal groups around the city.
Mahmud Turika/AFP/Getty Images

Gunmen killed Libya's deputy industry minister as he drove home from a shopping trip in the city of Sirte during the weekend, in an attack officials blamed on hard-line militants.

Libya is still plagued by violence and assassinations more than two years after civil war ousted longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Militias and former opposition fighters often resort to force to impose demands on the fragile government.

Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al Drowi was shot several times late Saturday, said a senior security official who asked 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 hard-line fighters who have been trying to extend their influence in the coastal city of Sirte, which has been more stable recently than the capital, Tripoli, or the major eastern city of Benghazi.

Sirte was the last bastion of Gaddafi loyalists in the war, and he was killed there on Oct. 20, 2011.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan's central government, weakened by infighting and with only nascent armed forces, is struggling to wrest back control in areas where militias are still dominant.

Ongoing instability

Libya's General National Congress and its members have not completed key parts of the country's transition to democracy, with secular parties and Islamists deadlocked over the way ahead.

The new constitution is unfinished, and militias that once helped fight Gaddafi have refused to disarm, claiming the central government is too weak to provide security and stability.

In Benghazi, the armed forces have been fighting to limit the influence of Ansar al-Sharia, a hard-line group that Washington last week designated a terrorist organization.

Armed protesters control key oil terminal ports in the east of the country, demanding more political autonomy and a greater share of the country's petroleum wealth.

Last week authorities said the navy had opened fire to turn away a tanker that had approached to illegally load oil at one of the ports in the hands of the protesters, in what the government said was a attempt to bypass its control.

Protests at three eastern ports, which usually account for about 600,000 barrels per day of oil exports, have slashed Libya's oil shipments. 

Since protests over the western el-Sharara oil field ended this month, total crude production has climbed back to about 650,000 barrels per day, with 510,000 barrels per day exported and the rest feeding two Libyan refineries, Libya's oil minister said last week.


Related News


Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter



Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter