Italian consul in Benghazi shot at

2013-01-13 11:42

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Benghazi - 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 spokesperson 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 told Reuters: "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.

Acute concern

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 September 11 attacks.

American officials say militants with ties to al-Qaeda 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 spokesperson 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.

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