Libyan gunmen steal over $50 million in bank van heist
TRIPOLI, Libya — Gunmen ambushed a Libyan bank van and made away with over $50 million on a highway east of Tripoli, officials said Tuesday. The brazen heist underscores the weakness of the central government in the North African country, where authorities are struggling to control unruly militias.
A security official told The Associated Press that the Central Bank van had no guards accompanying it when it was ambushed near the city of Sirte late Monday. The official news agency LANA, quoting a bank official who was with the van, said that a single carload of guards was escorting the money on its way from Sirte’s airport to the local bank branch, but they were unable to resist the 10 attackers.
The money was a mix of foreign currency and Libyan dinars. LANA said that $40 million was in dinars and at least $12 million in foreign currency without specifying which. The official said the foreign currency consisted of $10 million in U.S. dollars and between 2 and 5 million euros, worth approximately $2.7 to $7 million).
The two accounts could not immediately be reconciled. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
Libya lacks a centralized police force and a strong national army, so the government has to rely on militias who were part of the war against Gadhafi. But they often have conflicting political loyalties.
Assassinations and revenge killings are commonplace, fueled by longstanding grudges dating back to dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s rule, regional and tribal conflicts, and tensions between hard-line Islamists and other groups.