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Fighters attack Libyan government HQ

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Al-Jazeera

Three reportedly dead after men angry over unpaid stipends for helping to remove the Gaddafi regime launched assault.

Former Libyan fighters demanding unpaid stipends have attacked and surrounded the headquarters of the interim government, witnesses say.

The attack on Tuesday left three dead and several others wounded, according to an interior ministry official.

A defence ministry spokesperson confirmed there were dead and injured, but he did not know casualty numbers.

"Many men encircled the building and opened fire against it with weapons including anti-aircraft cannons," a government employee present during the attack told the AFP news agency.

Several lorries mounted with anti-aircraft guns surrounded the building in central Tripoli, blocking traffic, the witnesses said.

Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh, reporting from Tripoli, said the rebels came from the Nafusa mountains and that they were still surrounding the building.

He said the decision by the interim government to halt stipends, citing "mass corruption and fraud", angered the former fighters.

"I did speak to the son of the Libyan finance minister who said his father was at the building at the time of the attack," our correspondent said.

"He said there was heavy ammunition being fired. He said at least three people were killed.

"[He also said that] when the news spread, other [militia] brigades came to protect the government. The fighting lasted between one hour and two hours."

The headquarters has previously been attacked, but our correspondent said that one of the fighters he spoke to described Tuesday's attack as the most serious.

Nasser al-Manaa, an interim government spokesperson, said the defence minister was negotiating with the fighters, who "came in protest over [unpaid] stipends", referring to a reward scheme for those who fought against Muammar Gaddafi's regime last year.

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