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Africa

French honorary consul escapes Benghazi attack

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-06

France's honorary consul in Benghazi survived a gun attack unharmed late on Thursday as he drove home through the eastern Libyan city with his wife. The unidentified attackers shot at Jean Dufriche's car from another vehicle, security sources said.

France’s honorary consul in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi survived a gun attack on his car unharmed, officials said on Friday, in the latest assault on foreigners in the cradle of the North African country’s 2011 revolt.

The attack happened late on Thursday when Jean Dufriche was returning home with his wife.

“The consul was driving home when a car drove up and started shooting at their car,” said Mohammed al-Hijazy, spokesman of the security operations room in Benghazi.

“They were close to the Benghazi Medical Centre when the incident happened. They went there and stayed there until we sent a protection force. They have since left for Tunisia,” he said.

“At least ten bullets hit the vehicle, but no one was wounded."

A source close to Dufriche said there were at least seven bullet holes in his car. The source said the gunmen had fired several rounds and it was “a miracle” Dufriche had survived.

‘Re-establishing security’

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the attack "with the greatest firmness".

"Libya is facing great challenges after 42 years of dictatorship and eight months of conflict. The re-establishment of security is the priority to allow the development of the country and the creation of a state of law," he said in a statement.

"France is fully mobilised to support the Libyan authorities."

French President François Hollande, who is currently visiting Tunisia, expressed his "admiration" for the consul for having escaped unharmed from the attack.

Awash with weapons

Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has seen several attacks targeting the security forces and Western interests in recent months.

In April, a car bomb devastated France’s embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, wounding two French guards.

Last September, the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed during an attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

US officials say militants with ties to al Qaeda affiliates were most likely involved in the mission attack.

Benghazi, like much of Libya, is awash with weapons. The city has also seen attacks on Italian, British, Red Cross and United Nations interests since the end of the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-06

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