Libyan gunmen surround ministry

AFP-JIJI

Gunmen on Sunday surrounded Libya’s Foreign Ministry, demanding it be “cleansed of agents” of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said the Interior Ministry was also attacked, and that gunmen attempted to storm the headquarters of Libyan state television.

Armed men encircling the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli prevented staffers from entering, correspondents said. Around 30 vehicles, some mounted with antiaircraft guns, and dozens of armed men surrounded the offices.

An official, who declined to be named, acknowledged that the gunmen’s demands that officials from the previous regime and still working in the ministry be removed were “legitimate.” But he said it did not justify “paralyzing the whole work of a ministry” and criticized the group’s “extremely offensive” behavior.

The gunmen stressed they will stand their ground until their demands are met.

“Political exclusion is an obligation,” one of the gunmen said, adding that former regime officials still hold key jobs at the Foreign Ministry.

They also warned they could spread their action to other ministries.