Libya: Militias Take Control of Tripoli Govt Offices

Benghazi

Libya's toothless outgoing government today admitted it had lost control of government offices in Tripoli to armed militias.

The interim government led by prime minister Abdullah al-Thani, which resigned last week and has taken refuge in the east of the country, said armed groups were preventing government workers from entering their offices.

"Ministry and state offices in Tripoli have been occupied by armed militias who are preventing government workers from entering and are threatening their superiors," the government said in a statement released overnight.

It said the interim government was in contact with officials and "trying to ensure the continuity of services from afar."

Libya has been sliding into chaos since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed three years ago, with interim authorities confronting powerful militias which fought to oust the veteran dictator.

The interim government announced last week it had tendered its resignation to the elected parliament, days after a rival Islamist administration was created.

The parliament is also operating out of Libya's east for security reasons. A rival body, the General National Congress, last week named pro-Islamist figure Omar al-Hassi to form a "salvation government."

Interim authorities have been steadily losing ground to the militias and the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) mainly Islamist alliance, which has seized Tripoli airport after weeks of fierce fighting with nationalist rivals.

Islamist militiamen yesterday moved into the US embassy compound in Tripoli that was evacuated in late July, with videos showing cheering men diving from an upstairs balcony into the facility's swimming pool.

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