Libya: Russia’s embassy attacked

3rd Oct 2013

Security guards at Russia’s embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli appear to have repelled an armed attack by about 60 people. Russia says none of its personnel were hurt. The attackers’ motives were unclear.

An armed group broke into Russia’s embassy grounds in Libya’s capital on Wednesday but was then dispersed by guards, according to Libyan diplomatic sources.

Libyan diplomats quoted by international news agencies said the crowd was angered by the alleged killing two days ago of a Libyan air force pilot by a Russian woman in a Tripoli suburb. The circumstances of that death remained, however, unclear.

Diplomatic sources said security services fired shots to disperse the crowd which had entered the Russian compound but not the embassy building.

The embassy’s Russian flag was pulled down. The embassy had reportedly been empty at the time.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakhorova told Ekho Moskvy radio that preliminary information suggested that no one among the embassy personnel in Tripoli had been hurt.

Another ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Russian state television that the incident was over.

“In Tripoli … a shooting occurred and there was an attempt to enter the territory of the Russian embassy,” he said.

A Libyan official quoted by the Associated Press news agency said the attackers climbed over the embassy walls from three directions, firing into the air, and broke down the metal entrance gate. Shots fired had left five people wounded, he added.

US embassy attacked last year

On September 11 last year, militants linked to al-Qaeda affiliates attacked the US compound in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, killing the US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Libya, which lacks a strong central government, has been plagued by targeted killings of activists, judges and security agents since the 2011 ouster of strongman Moammar Gadhafi who was killed by insurgents at the close of an eight-month civil war.

His ouster came after Western powers staged air strikes to support the rebel fighters. Russia, which had had close relations with Gadhafi, condemned that air campaign and did not take part in it.

ipj/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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