January 22, 2015 / 6:22 PM / 3 years ago

U.N. condemns attack on Libyan central bank, demands inquiry

TRIPOLI, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The United Nations on Thursday condemned a reported attack on an office of Libya's central bank in the eastern city of Benghazi, calling for an inquiry into the incident that has complicated talks between the country's warring parties.

The U.N. last week brought together in Geneva some of Libya's rival factions in an attempt to negotiate an end to their fight for control of the country four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

On Wednesday, a rival, self-declared parliament based in Tripoli said it would suspend its participation in U.N.-brokered talks, accusing troops loyal to the recognized government of attacking the bank.

The official government, which has been forced to work out of the east since an armed faction called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli, denied the attack, saying its forces were securing the central bank in Benghazi.

"The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemns the reported armed attack against the Central Bank branch in Benghazi, a sovereign symbol of the Libyan State," it said in a statement.

"The Mission believes that the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry will contribute to clarifying the circumstances relating to the incident," it said.

A Reuters reporter could see damage to the bank building in Benghazi, the scene of heavy battles for weeks between eastern government troops and Islamist fighters.

Both conflict parties, which are backed by armed factions, have been fighting for control of the country and oil ports, but the central bank has so far tried to stay out of the conflict.

Both have appointed separate heads for the central bank which is controlling the country's vital oil revenues.

Reporting by Ulf Laessing

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