TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan militias armed with machine guns and mortars tried Tuesday to storm the prime minister's office, triggering a gunbattle with security forces that left one guard dead, government officials said.
Government spokesman Nasser al-Manei said the armed protesters tried to push their way into the building, some of them carrying mortars. The building was evacuated as the firefight with the security guards developed, leaving one guard dead and four wounded, he said.
Libya has been hit by lawlessness since the ouster last year of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, with militiamen who fought the dictator's forces refusing to hand over their weapons.
The protesters were demanding compensation from the government.
Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib was in the building meeting with his defense minister at the time of the attack, a person who was also inside said on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution. The premier was not hurt.
Cafe owner Mohammed Sabry said the militia groups descended on the prime minister's office in the morning, attacking guards and causing mayhem.
"The blood covered the sidewalk in front of my shop," he said. "Backup forces came from a nearby neighborhood to help the guards and push those people away."
Libya's transitional government has offered salaries to former fighters who helped topple Gadhafi and is trying to integrate them into a national force, so far with patchy success.