Gunmen attacked a central bank van in Libya on Monday, stealing $54 million (40 million euros), in the latest sign of growing lawlessness since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Gathafi.
The official LANA news agency said “10 heavily armed men” had made off with the funds, which were destined for the Libyan central bank branch in the central city of Sirte, and had been flown there from Tripoli, Fox news reported.
Citing a source from the local branch of the central bank, LANA said that the gunmen stole “53 million Libyan dinars ($42 million)” and another $12 million in US dollars and euros.
The gunmen attacked the van on the road between Sirte airport and the town itself, 500 kilometres (300 miles) east of Tripoli, LANA said, without saying if there had been any casualties.
Only one security vehicle had been assigned to protect the van, and the agency said the guards “were unable to resist the 10 attackers.”
The agency quoted a security official in the city as saying the vehicles used in the robbery had been identified and that police were hunting for the perpetrators.
A city official said he had no further details about Monday’s attacks but that two Sirte banks had been hit in July, with the robbers making off with 500,000 Libyan dinars ($400,000).
Gathafi freed tens of thousands of convicted criminals in the early days of the 2011 rebellion, many of whom have formed powerful gangs that have taken advantage of a flood of weapons from the fallen dictator’s looted arsenal.