TRIPOLI, Libya — A group led by a renegade Libyan general said on Sunday it suspended parliament after launching an attack against the legislative body.
Gen. Mokhtar Farnana, speaking on a Libyan television channel, said a group led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter had assigned a 60-member constituent’s assembly to take over for parliament.
Farnana said Libya’s current government would act on an emergency basis. He did not elaborate.
He also said Sunday’s attack on Libya’s parliament was not a coup, but “fighting by people’s choice.”
Farnana claimed Sunday’s attack on parliament, in which gunmen kidnapped some 20 lawmakers and officials in an assault that threatened to further splinter a country dominated by the armed groups that overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi three years ago.
The attack, which hospital officials said killed one person and wounded nine, came after an assault on Friday by Hifter’s forces on Islamist militias in the restive eastern city of Benghazi that authorities said killed 70 people. On Sunday, gunmen targeted the Islamist lawmakers and officials Hifter blames for allowing extremists to hold the country ransom, his spokesman Mohammed al-Hegazi told Libya’s al-Ahrar television station.
“This parliament is what supports these extremist Islamist entities,” al-Hegazi said. “The aim was to arrest these Islamist bodies who wear the cloak of politics.”
The fighting spread to the capital’s southern edge on Sunday night and along the highway leading to the airport.
El Deeb reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell and Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.