News24

Libya plans diplomatic security force

2013-01-14 09:13

Tripoli - Libya plans to create a special force to protect diplomats, government sources said, after a gun attack on an Italian consul exposed the precarious security situation in the North African state.

Unidentified gunmen in Benghazi opened fire on Guido De Sanctis's armoured car on Saturday. The diplomat was unhurt but the attack was a reminder of the 11 September attack on the US mission there that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.

"We are discussing putting in place a force that would look after diplomats. There are also plans to protect foreigners working for foreign companies," a defence ministry source said, declining to be named as the proposal was still being discussed.

"The idea is it would be mixed between police and army but would likely come under the command of the defence ministry."

The source said the members were likely to be trained abroad but did not give an estimate of how many there would be.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi spoke by telephone to his Libyan counterpart to reaffirm Italy's resolve to help Libya reinforce its security.

Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Saturday's attack was "an attempt to destabilise the institutions of the new Libya."

"Italy expresses its strongest condemnation and reaffirms its total support of the democratic path and the reforms that the Tripoli authorities have started," he said in a statement.

An Italian foreign ministry spokesman said security around officials in Benghazi was already high before Saturday's attack, which will strengthen views that the city is seen as too dangerous a place for foreign diplomats and workers.

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