Gunmen attacked Russian embassy in Libya’s capital Tripoli

Gunmen attacked the Russian embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli on October 2nd, hours after news came out of a Russian woman who had been arrested and accused of killing a Libyan senior military official.

A group of people tried to force their way into the building and opened fire. Diplomatic sources in Libya said security guards fired shots to disperse a group of about 60 people that had approached the embassy. An attempt to enter the building was repelled and according to the Russian Foreign Ministry no diplomats were wounded. The embassy staff could be taken safely to the airport as a precaution. Four Libyans were wounded in the attack. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Russian state television the situation had calmed. "In Tripoli ...a shooting occurred and there was an attempt to enter the territory of the Russian embassy,’’ he said.
Russian woman accused of murder on Libyan official
The attack on the embassy came hours after Libyan authorities arrested a 24-year old Russian woman, who was accused of the murder of senior military official Mohamed Alsusi in his apartment in Tripoli. Hashim Bishar, head of Tripoli’s Supreme Security Committee, stated that the woman had also shot and stabbed the victim’s mother. He said he had interrogated her for six hours before handing her to judicial authorities. The group attacked the Russian embassy as an act of revenge, because of the killing of the Libyan, another security source claimed.

Security threats
Two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, clan and tribal rivalries, as well as Islamist groups, have flourished in Libya in the absence of a strong central government. Security services have struggled to maintain order, while activists and security agents have been often the targets of killings in recent months. The Libyan Prime Minister, Ali Zidan, earlier this month secured promises from Britain and the US of military training and aid for Libya's weak army, after admitting that he faces numerous security threats. "There are a lot of security problems in the capital," said Bishar. "If we want to continue in security, we need to have training."

Number of attacks on Western diplomats
There also have been a number of attacks on Western diplomats by militant groups. Militants linked to al Qaeda attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed the ambassador and three other Americans on September 2012. In April, a car bomb outside the French embassy in Tripoli injured two French guards and a number of residents. In June, a car bomb was found outside the Italian embassy, while the UK withdrew some embassy staff in May over security concerns.  

Western powers, using airforce power, led the military campaign that ultimately toppled Gaddafi. Russia, which had close relations with Gaddafi, did not take part in the action and condemned what it called the West's abuse of a United Nations Security Council to intervene.


Resources: The Guardian, Reuters, BBC

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