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 Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah escaped an apparent assassination attempt early on Thursday when bullets hit his car, according to local and international media.

The alleged incident comes amid intense wrangling for control of the country between its eastern parliament and Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity (GNU).

A source was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying it happened as Dbeibah was on his way home and described it as a clear assassination attempt.

The attackers were said to have fled and the incident was referred for investigation.

Deepening instability

Any confirmed attempt to assassinate Dbeibah could aggravate Libya’s political crisis. The prime minister said he would ignore a vote scheduled by the eastern parliament later on Thursday to replace him.

Armed troops have mobilized more fighters and equipment in the capital, Tripoli, over recent weeks, heightening fears that the political ructions could lead to fighting.

Libya has been plagued with instability since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising against former leader Moammar Gadhafi. The country now finds itself divided between warring factions in the east and west.

As part of a UN-brokered, Western-backed political process, Dbeibah — a powerful businessman from the city of Misrata — was appointed prime minister in February last year. The main task of his GNU was to guide the country toward national reconciliation and oversee elections.

Elections planned for December were canceled and the eastern parliament has said they will not take place this year either.

Since announcing a presidential bid that broke his pledge not to run in elections, he had become a polarizing figure.

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