Protesters force Libya internet shutdown

Someone using Twitter
Image caption Many activists used the internet to communicate in the 2011 uprising

Protesters armed with knives and sticks have stormed the building of Libya's largest internet provider in the capital, Tripoli.

Some 150 people forced employees of the state-owned internet provider, the Libyan Telecoms and Technology company (LTT), to switch off its service for much of Saturday.

It is unclear who the demonstrators are and who is leading them.

Insecurity has been a major concern in post-revolutionary Libya.

Much of the south and west of the country was taken offline by the disruption. LTT was later able to restore service using a backup system.

A spokesman for LTT told the BBC that the protestors wanted to halt their services and were demanding that the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan step down from power.

He added that the protesters did not want to negotiate, adding that they had beaten up three employees from the telecommunications ministry who tried to negotiate with them.

The protesters were still occupying the building on Saturday evening after service had been restored, the spokesman said.

In the past year, Libya has experienced several blockades of various public services by militias driven by demands for political or financial gain, and in some cases minority rights, the BBC's Rana Jawad reports from Tripoli.

Many of Libya's oil terminals in the East have been blocked since July.

The latest incident highlights the still fragile and often unpredictable security challenges facing the country, our correspondent adds.