Region | Libya

Italian diplomat escapes assassination attempt

The Italian cosul in Benghazi came under fire in his car, but survived as his car was armoured

  • Reuters
  • Published: 12:20 January 13, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • TOPSHOTS A security guard points at bullet impacts on the vehicle of Italy's consul to Benghazi, on January 12, 2013, in front of the Tibesti hotel in Benghazi. Italy's consul to Benghazi in eastern Libya escaped unscathed after an attack on his bullet-proof car in the city on January 12, Italian news agency ANSA reported, quoting local security sources. The car in which the consul, Guido De Sanctis, was travelling was shot at but no one was injured, the report said. TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO / ABDULLAH DOMA

Benghazi, Libya: An Italian consul came under fire in his car in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday but was unhurt, Italy said, four months after the US ambassador was killed in an attack on the US mission in the city.

A spokesman for the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack on Guido De Sanctis, Italy’s Benghazi consul since 2011, and said he was unhurt.

A security source in Libya who declined to be named said: “They shot at his car, but the car was armoured. He is fine, there are no injuries.”

There was no immediate indication who might have been behind the attack.

Security for Westerners in Libya’s second city was an acute concern even before the attack on the US consulate, in which four US staff were killed on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

American officials say militants with ties to Al Qaida affiliates were most likely involved in that attack. Benghazi, like much of Libya, is awash with weapons, and the city has also seen recent attacks on British, Red Cross and United Nations interests. Italy is the former colonial power in Libya.

A police source in Benghazi said the shots had been fired from a car passing De Sanctis’s residence. A Reuters reporter saw two bullet holes in the building, which was surrounded by police. The Italian spokesman said security around officials in Benghazi was already high before Saturday’s attack.

The city was where the anti-Gaddafi uprising broke out in February 2011. But Libya’s new elected rulers in Tripoli have struggled to impose their authority on a country where armed militias wield the real power, and Benghazi’s multitude of armed factions now make it a hot spot for violence.

In November, the city’s police chief was shot dead. And last June, a convoy carrying the British ambassador was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade that injured two of his bodyguards.

The offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the city were also attacked last year, as was a convoy carrying the United Nations’ former special envoy to Libya.

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