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Published: Thursday December 26, 2013 MYT 8:30:01 PM
Updated: Thursday December 26, 2013 MYT 8:30:59 PM

Libyan militiamen briefly block entrance to central bank

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a joint news conference at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli, November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a joint news conference at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli, November 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Dozens of Libyan militiamen briefly blocked the entrance to the central bank on Thursday, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, witnesses and a central bank official said.

Libya is in turmoil, with Zeidan's government struggling to assert control of a country awash with arms from the 2011 uprising which ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

Armed men drove up to the central bank in trucks on the seafront in central Tripoli and stopped staff from entering the building, the witness said.

"Central bank staff were told to go home," he said. A central bank official, who declined to be named, said the protesters had demanded that Zeidan and his government resign.

The militiamen then also briefed blocked the entrance to Tripoli's nearby commercial port, a witness said. But cars were later driving into the harbour and business activity seemed normal, other witnesses said.

No more details were immediately available.

Dozens of the militias which helped topple Gaddafi have refused to disarm and have a range of political and financial demands.

Zeidan's government has sought to disarm them and integrate them into regular armed forces with financial incentives and state jobs. Army and police recruits, many still in training, are no match for battle-hardened militias, analysts say.

In October, a militia briefly seized Zeidan from his hotel room in central Tripoli and brought him to a government office before releasing him under public pressure.

The government is also grappling with seizures by armed groups of major oilfields and exports terminals, which have dried up oil revenues - Libya's main source of dollars to fund imports.

Oil exports have fallen to 110,000 barrels a day from more than 1 million bpd in July.

(Reporting by Feras Bosalum and Ghaith Shennib; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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