At least seven people have been reported killed on Wednesday as militants armed with at least one suicide bomb stormed the offices of the Libyan electoral commission in Tripoli.
The attackers set the building ablaze, according to spokesman Khaled Amar, who fled the building with other staff following the attack. Reports said they men then engaged security forces in a street battle.
Security sources told the Libya Observer there were four gunmen. Images shared on social media showed pillars of thick smoke rising from the site.
The attack comes as the UN has put pressure on Libya to hold elections by the end of the year. UN envoys have repeatedly emphsised the need for elections this year.
While the country remains split between rival governments following a disputed vote in 2014, in which turnout was just 630,000 people, experts have speculated over the implications of an election.
“I personally believe that despite what the UN says we will not have elections in Libya before middle of 2019,” a Libyan analyst told MEE in January.
Human Rights Watch warned last month against rushing the country into elections, saying that the country is too violent and authorities cannot guarantee freedom of assembly or free speech essential for a vote.
Potential contenders on both sides of Libya’s main political divide have called for a vote to resolve an impasse in which the government in the capital has limited authority and largely depends on armed groups for security.
The last parliamentary elections in 2014 led to rival governments being set up in Tripoli and the east, backed by competing armed alliances.