- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2015

Libyan fighters are sitting on almost $100 billion in oil revenue and foreign currency after seizing control of the Benghazi branch of the country’s central bank.

Thursday’s takeover may be the catalyst for an armed battle for the gold and cash inside, The New York Times reported. By falling into the hands of a specific group of Libyan fighters, one of the few working public institutions in the nation has been put in limbo.

Sadik el-Kabir, the bank’s chairman, has distributed payments to public employees in order to keep the nation’s economy from imploding. He has attempted to play a neutral role among warring factions by financing the Interior and Defense ministries, which provides funds for “thousands of fighters on all sides of the struggle” for power, The Times reported.

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“We are the youth of the naval base, and we are here to guard the bank,” a man says in an online video posted after the bank’s seizure, the newspaper reported. The Islamic fighter then points to a bank safe next to a truck and adds, “There is more inside, but we don’t want to enter, so they don’t call us thieves.”

Libya now has two rival governments vying for control of the nation. One faction is based in Tripoli and the other in the cities of Bayda and Tobruk.

Gen. Khalifa Hifter and Libya’s elected parliament control the eastern cities, and a coalition of Islamic groups controls Tripoli, The Times reported.

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