American Among Dead in Tripoli, Libya, Hotel Attack

PHOTO: Libyan security forces and emergency services surround the Corinthia Hotel on Jan. 27, 2015, after a car bomb exploded outside the largest hotel in capital Tripoli on Tuesday.Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Libyan security forces and emergency services surround the Corinthia Hotel on Jan. 27, 2015, after a car bomb exploded outside the largest hotel in capital Tripoli on Tuesday.

Several gunmen wearing ski masks stormed the Corinthia Hotel, a hotel popular with western diplomats and journalists in Libya’s capitol, Tripoli, taking a number of hostages and leaving at least eight dead, including an American, four other foreigners and three security guards.

A Libyan government source told ABC News of the U.S. citizen's death, and it later was confirmed by the U.S. State Department.

"We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Libya," a senior State Department official said. "We have no additional details to share at this time."

A member of the hotel’s staff told The Associated Press that "five masked gunmen wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after security guards at the hotel's gate tried to stop them. ... They entered the hotel and fired randomly at the staff in the lobby."

The staff member also claimed "the gunmen fired in his direction when he opened his door to look out. He said he joined the rest of the staff and foreign guests fleeing out the hotel's back doors into the parking lot. When they got there, he said a car bomb exploded in the parking lot, only 100 meters [109 yards] away."

Security services told the AFP they managed to surround the gunman on the 23rd floor of the hotel, which is when the men then detonated their explosives.

An eyewitness described the harrowing attack to the BBC, saying, "I suddenly heard shots and saw people running towards me, and we all escaped from the back [of the hotel] through the underground garage. The hotel did a lockdown after that."

Images purportedly showing the gunmen from the hotel's surveillance video have shown up on social media, but there has been no official confirmation on who the attackers were. a Twitter account affiliated with ISIS claimed responsibility, saying the attack on the Corinthia Hotel was in revenge for the death of a Libyan jihadist by the name of Abu Anas al Libi. Al Libi was linked to the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.