MOSCOW/TRIPOLI: Russia’s embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli came under fire yesterday and a group of people tried to force their way into the compound, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
A diplomatic source in Libya said security guards fired shots to disperse about 60 people that had approached the embassy. The compound was quickly secured by guards and according to the Foreign Ministry no diplomats were wounded in the incident.
The attack was symptomatic of the volatility of the country two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Clan and tribal rivalries, as well as Islamist groups, have flourished in the absence of strong central government, and security services, themselves riven, have struggled to maintain order.
There have been a number of attacks on Western diplomats by militant groups, the worst being directed against the US consulate in Benghazi where the American Ambassador was killed last year.
“In Tripoli ...a shooting occurred and there was an attempt to enter the territory of the Russian embassy in Libya,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
The reason for the attack was not clear, but one diplomatic source said it did not appear to be directly linked to any militant group. He said a Ukrainian woman had killed a Libyan on Tuesday and then sought refuge in the Russian embassy. The crowd had then come to protest and look for her.
The Russian Itar Tass news agency cited unnamed sources as saying that the embassy territory was now fully under control.