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Africa

Car bomb destroys French embassy in Libya

© @Eh4b10

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-23

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius vowed to track down those responsible for Tuesday's "heinous attack" on France's embassy in Tripoli after it was targeted by a car bomb that injured two guards and damaged surrounding buildings.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius toured France’s devastated embassy in Tripoli on Tuesday, just hours after it was targeted by a car bomb that injured two guards and caused extensive damage to surrounding buildings.

Speaking alongside his Libyan counterpart, Mohammed Abdel Aziz, Fabius said the Libyan authorities had pledged to track down the "terrorists" responsible for this "unacceptable act”.

French President François Hollande said in a statement that France “expects the Libyan authorities to ensure that all possible light is shed on this unacceptable act so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice".

Emmanuel Dupuy on Tripoli embassy attack

Fabius said the attack targeted not just one nation, but all of those struggling against terrorist elements.

"This attack was meant to kill. France will not surrender," he earlier told BFM television.

"This attack targeted not only France but all of the countries who are fighting against terrorist groups."

France’s international allies were quick to condemn the attack.

A UN Security Council statement "condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against the embassy of France in Tripoli", adding that Security Council members "expressed their deep sympathy to the families of the victims of this heinous act".

The United States called on Libya to punish the assailants and said it was ready to assist France if needed.

Damaged neighbourhood

A French source said one of the guards was seriously wounded in the explosion, with the other sustaining only light injuries.

But the blast caused extensive damage to the embassy, a two-storey villa in the upmarket al Andalus area, prompting one French employee to remark: "There's nothing left of my office."

“The walls of the embassy itself have been partly destroyed, and there was a fire in all three houses next to the embassy,” according to FRANCE 24’s Libya correspondent, Marine Casalis.

“The explosion happened when the guards were coming into the embassy, and others were inside already,” Casalis said. “The explosion was heard throughout the neighbourhood,” she added.

Security chief Mahmud al-Sherif said the blast occurred when a car parked outside the French mission's front door exploded at 7:10am local time (5:10am GMT).

The blast created a deep crater in the street, destroyed two of the cars parked nearby, damaged neighbouring villas and blew out the windows of a shop that lies some 200 metres away.

Link to Mali?

Emmanuel Dupuy, president of the Institute for Prospective and Security Studies in Europe, told FRANCE 24 that it was too early to say why the embassy was attacked but that he believes it could be related to France’s operation in Mali, noting that the French parliament had voted to prolong the Mali mission the day before the Tripoli attack.

Al Qaeda’s North African arm, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM, has previously warned of retaliation for France’s military intervention in Mali.

Casalis cited French officials as saying they “had not received a direct threat, but that they were on alert”.

Last September, an attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. 

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-23

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