Five foreigners have been killed by gunmen who stormed a luxury Tripoli hotel, according to a Libyan security official.
Mahmoud Hamza, commander of the Special Deterrent Force, told private satellite television station al-Nabaa that the situation was “under control”, although he could not confirm the whereabouts of the gunmen.
Mr Hamza also said that there were no more hostages in the hotel.
Earlier, a security official said the gunmen killed three guards and took hostages at the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea.
A witness said that five masked attackers wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after security at the gates tried to stop them. A car bomb also exploded at the hotel.
Reports later said that three gunmen were still holed up in the hotel.
Essam al-Naas, a Tripoli security spokesman, earlier said at least two Libyan security personnel had been killed.
An online group that supports “Islamic State” said the attack was carried out in the name of Abu Anas al-Libi.
Al-Libi was an alleged a-Qaida operative accused of involvement in the bombing of US embassies in Africa, who was captured by American special forces in Libya.
He died in a US hospital this month.
Yesterday’s attack began when militants detonated a car bomb in the hotel car park. The gunmen then shot their way into the hotel.
Guests were moved to safety, but it was not clear if there were additional casualties.
The five-star hotel is popular among government officials, some of whom live there.
“We are watching the situation very closely,” a spokesman for the Corinthia hotel group in Malta said.
A witness to the events said all roads leading to the Corinthia Hotel had been sealed off by security forces and people had been warned to stay away. There had been exchanges of gunfire.
Meanwhile, an online message purportedly from IS says a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot it holds have less than 24 hours left to live.
The message, posted online, again demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people.
It also mentioned Jordanian pilot Lt Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is a captive of IS.
Yesterday’s video matched a message released over the weekend, although neither bore the logo of IS’s al-Furqan media arm.
The weekend video showed a still photo of Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of the body of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa.
The message says that unless the Jordanian government frees al-Rishawi within 24 hours, Mr Goto and the pilot will be killed, adding that this would be the group’s last message.
The message warns any delaying tactics by the government will result in the death of both men.
Mr Goto has only “24 hours left to live and the pilot has even less,” the message said.
A Japanese envoy in Jordan, deputy foreign minister Yasuhide Nakayama, earlier expressed hope the two hostages would return home “with a smile on their faces”. “I hope we can all firmly work hard and join hands to cooperate,” he said.