Tripoli, 12 January:
Italy’s Consul-General in Benghazi, Guido de Sanctis, was attacked in Benghazi late today Saturday, but was not hurt. ”He was unharmed”, an Italian official told the Libya Herald, “but we have no details exactly what happened”.
A source in Benghazi said that the incident took place early this evening. Unknown assailants shot at his vehicle outside the Tibesti hotel where he had been attending a conference on Benghazi as Libya’s “Cultural Capital”. The source added that his vehicle was armour-plated with bullet-proof glass and that this saved him.
Pictures showed at least five shots to the vehicle.
The Italian foreign ministry has said that it will not be issuing a statement until tomorrow, Sunday.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but it is bound to strengthen views abroad and within the country that security in Benghazi is completely out of control and that it certainly is too dangerous a place for foreign diplomats.
On 11 June, the vehicle carrying the British Ambassador, Sir Dominc Asquith, was shot at in Benghazi in similar circumstances. There has been little attempt to find or arrest the assailants. Exactly three months later, on 11 September, US Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed along with three other US diplomatic staff in an attack on US diplomatic buildings in the city. Again, those believed to be responsible for his death have not been arrested or questioned.
Today’s attack comes just two days after General National Congress President Muhamed Magarief headed the biggest and most important Libyan delegation to Italy since the revolution and it included representatives from Benghazi. The visit coincided with the Italy-Libya Economic Forum in Rome, designed to expand economic ties.
The attack may well undo much of the good achieved by the visit and the forum. That may have been intentional.