Updated at 5:13 p.m. EST | A Senior State Department official is confirming the death of one U.S. citizen in the attack in the Libyan hotel.
Original| Islamic State militants stormed a luxury hotel in Libya on Tuesday, killing at least eight people, including four foreigners, officials said, in one of the worst terror attacks to shake the oil-rich state since Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011.
As the masked gunmen fired shots into the Corinthia Hotel, a popular meeting point for government officials and foreign delegations in Tripoli, staff and guests spilled into the parking lot, only to be met with a car bomb that killed three security guards.
The attacks come as Libyan delegations gather in Geneva to discuss a political settlement to the country’s civil war, which has produced two competing national governments. After months of fighting an internationally recognized government in the eastern city of Benghazi, IS militants are now beings pushed into other parts of the country, including Tripoli.
Among those said to be guests at the hotel was the head of the rival, Tripoli-based government, Omar Al-Hassi, who has previously denied that IS militants are operating in Libya. The militants planned on assassinating Al-Hassi, Omar Khadrawi, head of Tripoli security, told Reuters, but he was evacuated before they could reach him on the 22nd floor.
“The attackers were attempting to assassinate him, and that is according to our investigation,” he said.
Yet a Twitter account affiliated with the Tripoli branch of the Islamic State Group, which has taken swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, said the attack was retaliation for the capture of Libyan Al-Qaeda operative Nazih al-Ruqai. Al-Ruqai was snatched by the CIA in 2013 for his involvement in the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 people. He died earlier this month ahead of his trial in a New York hospital due to long-standing medical problems.