|Geann Pineda |||Jan 27, 2015 09:51 PM EST|
(Photo : Reuters) A vehicle belonging to security forces is parked near Corinthia hotel (rear) in Tripoli January 27, 2015.
Armed gunmen attacked a luxury hotel in the Libya's capital Tripoli, killing at least eight people.
The fatalities included five foreigners -- an American, a French citizen, two Filipinos and a South Korean. At least five people were wounded. Officials said the gunmen stormed the five-star Corinthia Hotel, and opened fire before blowing themselves up.
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"The attackers opened fire inside the hotel," Omar Khadrawi, head of Tripoli security said. "When the attackers were completely surrounded by the security forces, one of them detonated a grenade, but we don't know if it was deliberate."
Guests including the head of Libya's self-declared government, Omar al-Hassi, and some foreign dignitaries were immediately evacuated.
The deadly attack was considered as one of the worst assaults against foreigners since the 2012 bombing of the consulate building in Benghazi, killing a U.S. ambassador.
In its Twitter account, militants claiming ties with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had claimed responsibility for the attack, the SITE Intelligence group said. The militant group said it was a revenge for Abu - Anas Al-Libi, an Al Qaeda operative, who died in the United States early this month.
However, Tripoli officials blamed Gaddafi loyalists, saying the attack was an assassination attempt against their leader Hassi.
Most foreign governments had closed their embassies and pulled out their staff in Tripoli, citing security reasons. But this did not stop some diplomats and foreign dignitaries to still visit the capital.
The Corinthia is a luxury high-rise hotel overlooking the capital. It is a frequent venue of meetings between top government officials and foreign delegations.
Since the end of civil war in 2011, Libya has been gripped by tensions arising from conflict between rival factions - those allied with the internationally recognized government, and forces who have set up their own government in Tripoli.
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