Libya: Helicopter downed, killing election worker

July 6, 2012
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A Libyan man walks near National Assembly election campaign posters at Martyr's Square in Tripoli, Libya, Thursday, July 5, 2012. The Libyan National Assembly elections will take place on July 7, 2012, the first free elections since 1969. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Gunmen shot down a helicopter carrying voting materials near the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday, killing one election commission worker, a spokesman for the country's ruling council said.

The attack further escalated tensions that were already running high in Libya on the eve of the country's first national election since the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi last year.

Saleh Darhoub, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council, said the helicopter came under attack while flying over Benina airport on the outskirts of the eastern city of Benghazi. He said that one worker killed but that the crew survived after a crash landing.

He described the assailants as "enemies of the revolution" and said the attack won't stop the country from holding elections.

The shooting comes a day after former rebel fighters from eastern Libya shut down three oil refineries and attacked offices of election commission in eastern Libya, to pressure the ruling council to cancel elections, citing an unfair distribution of seats among Libya's regions.

The oil-rich east suffered marginalization and neglect under Gadhafi's four-decade rule. After the revolution, eastern tribal leaders and commanders demanded an equal number of seats in the new parliament which is tasked to form a government.