Car bomb targets French embassy in Libya

Tripoli, April 23: A car bomb targeted the French embassy in the Libyan capital early on Tuesday, wounding two French guards and a Libyan teenager in an attack that President Francois Hollande denounced as an assault not only against France but all countries engaged in the fight against terrorism.

The explosives-laden car was detonated just outside the embassy building in Tripoli's upscale al-Andalus neighbourhood early in the morning, before any of the embassy staff had arrived inside the diplomatic mission, two Libyan security officials said.

The strong explosion wounded two French guards and set off a fire at the embassy entrance that engulfed some of the offices inside, the officials said.

A Libyan girl in her teens, who was in a nearby house, was also hurt from the blast.

Two cars parked outside the embassy caught fire and two other nearby buildings were also damaged, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Firefighters rushed to the scene of the attack as smoke billowed into the sky.

Video from the scene showed charred walls on surrounding houses.

The officials said the motives for the attack the first such assault on an embassy in the Libyan capital were not immediately clear.

The Libyan government condemned the attack and said in a statement posted on its official website that it "rejects such actions, which are directly targeting Libya's security and stability."

In Paris, President Hollande denounced the attack, saying in a statement that it targeted not only France but "all countries in the international community engaged in fighting terrorism."

"France expects the Libyan authorities to shed the fullest light on this unacceptable act, so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice," Hollande added.

At Hollande's request, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was to travel to Tripoli later today to assess the situation and bring home the two wounded French guards.

Ahead of his flight, Fabius said "this bombing was intended to kill, but France will not bend."

He added that France was reinforcing security throughout the Mideast and the Sahel region of Africa.

Earlier, Fabius called the bombing an "abhorrent act," and said that the foreign ministry was "in liaison with the Libyan authorities" and that France will "do everything it can to shed light on the circumstances."

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