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Libya's NTC sets date for power transfer

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Libya's interim authorities say they will hand over power to a newly elected congress on Wednesday, less than a year after its fighters overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

"We affirm that August 8, 2012 will be the day that power will be transferred peacefully," Saleh Darhoub, spokesman of the outgoing National Transitional Council (NTC), told journalists in Tripoli on Monday.

Libyans cast ballots on July 7 in the country's first free elections following a 2011 popular uprising that escalated into a civil war and overthrew the regime of now slain dictator Gaddafi.

They elected a 200-member legislative assembly comprising party and independent representatives, which will replace the NTC and lead the country until fresh elections are held on the basis of a new constitution.

But the transition comes against a backdrop of heightened insecurity.

Violent incidents

On Sunday, unknown assailants attacked a compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Libyan port of Misrata with grenades and rockets, forcing it to suspend its work there and in the eastern city of Benghazi, the agency said.

The ICRC said seven of its aid workers were inside their residence when it came under attack. No one was hurt, but damage to the building was extensive.

It was the fifth time in less than three months that violence was directed against the independent aid agency in Libya, the ICRC said in a statement, which stressed its neutrality.

"Given the circumstances, we are forced to announce, with considerable regret, that we will be suspending all our activities in Misrata and Benghazi and that our delegates in those cities will be temporarily relocated," said Ishfaq Muhamed Khan, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Libya.

In Geneva, ICRC spokesman Jean-Yves Clemenzo said that the seven staff had withdrawn to its delegation in the capital Tripoli.

"We do not know who carried out the attack. Grenades and RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] were used, it was a serious incident," he told Reuters.

Several violent incidents have rocked Libya in recent days.

Also on Sunday, security forces killed three armed men suspected of being behind seven failed bomb plots, a government spokesman said.

Security forces surprised the three armed men inside a farm near Aziziya, 40km south of Tripoli, in possession of the same kind of explosives used in seven previous bomb plots, Darhoub said.

Five members of the security forces were wounded during the clash, Darhoub told reporters without giving details on the nature of the targets or if there were possible links between the armed men and recent explosions.

On Saturday, a car bomb exploded near the offices of the military police in Tripoli, three days after a strong explosion rocked military intelligence offices in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Seven Iranian relief workers were abducted on Tuesday in Benghazi by a group of armed men just as they started a mission in the country as official guests of the Libyan Red Crescent Association.


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