By Maha Sulaiman.
Benghazi, 21 January 2015:
Claims that the Central Bank of Libya branch in Benghazi was attacked and looted today by . . .[restrict]the Libyan National Army (LNA) have been denied by both the Libyan government in Beida and LNA itself.
Pro-Dawn media stated that Operation Dignity had robbed the bank. One media source stated that the continuing General National Congress had suspended it participation in the UN-brokered dialogue in protest.
The LNA’s Chief of Staff has denied this. In a statement published by the government’s information board it said that the bank was now “under the control and protected by the 204 Tank Battalion which is guarding vital installations and facilities”.
The LNA says it took the bank this morning from Ansar Al-Sharia which, it stated, had occupied the building and was using it as a base to attack the army. It claims that there were Ansar snipers in the building when it was captured. Some were killed, others escaped, it said. No numbers have been given.
According to the Chief of Staff spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mismari, reports that the bank had been looted were “completely baseless”.
The army also said that there was money in the bank when it entered the downtown building near the port and the south courthouse but did know if belonged to the Central Bank or had been accumulated by Ansar. It did not state the amount nor is it not clear if the money is still in the bank or has been taken elsewhere.
The attack on the building appears to have been part of yesterday’s and today’s LNA operation in central Benghazi to clear it of Ansar forces. The army says it is now in full control of the area.
It also claims that it made considerable “efforts” to keep damage to the bank building to a minimum. However, the entire area is already massively damaged. [/restrict]