ISIL claims attack on Libyan hotel; still has Japanese hostage

World Today

Libyan security forces and emergency services surround Tripoli’s central Corinthia Hotel (R) on January 27, 2015 in the Libyan capital. The hotel was reportedly attacked by Islamist gunmen today and gunfire was heard, an AFP photographer reported. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA)

Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Libya’s capital on Tuesday, killing at least five foreigners and three guards, authorities said.

The attack, which included a car bombing, struck the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea. The attackers said they were allied with the Islamic State. CCTV’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.

Security forces regained control of the popular hotel, but only after two assailants set off a grenade that killed them. It remains unclear whether more assailants were involved.

“Two people armed with explosives inside their bags, one of them hugged me, one of them exploded, and the other one did not explode,” an unidentified security officer said.

Libyan blogger @AliTweel captured the moments shortly after the blast, when flames rose up from outside the hotel, appearing to be from the aftermath of the car bomb.


A hotel staffer said the attack began when five masked gunmen wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after security guards at the hotel’s gate tried to stop them. He said they entered the hotel and fired randomly at the staff in the lobby.

He said he joined the rest of the staff and foreign guests fleeing out the hotel’s back doors into the car park.

When they got there, he said a car bomb, only a hundred meters away exploded and burned five cars in the car park and damaged some hotel windows.

Meanwhile, time seems to be slipping away for two hostages being held by ISIL.

In a new video posted by the Islamic State, the voice of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto is heard over an image of Goto holding a picture of Jordanian pilot, First Lieutenant Muath al-Kaseasbeh, shot down and taken prisoner by ISIL in Dec. 2014.

Last week ISIL beheaded another Japanese hostage. In the new video, Goto says ISIL will trade his life for Sajida al-Rishawi, a female would-be suicide bomber being held by Jordan. If the trade isn’t made, he says both men will be executed.

In Japan, pressure is mounting to secure the release of Goto but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is holding firm against making concessions to terrorist groups.

In Syria, Kurdish fighters have successfully taken back the city of Kobane from ISIL forces after months of fighting and help from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. The next major battle will be for Mosul in Iraq.

Report complied with information from The Associated Press