Tripoli, 14 January
Italy’s foreign minister, Giulio Terzi has strongly condemned the failed attack on his country’s Benghazi consul, as has the city’s local council.
The attack by gunmen on the vehicle carrying Guido de Sanctis was “an attempt to destabilise the institutions of the new Libya”, Terzi told Reuters, “Italy expresses its strongest condemnation and reaffirms its total support of the democratic path and the reforms that the Tripoli authorities have started”.
On Saturday evening, de Sanctis was being driving away from the Tibesti hotel, where he had been attending a conference on Benghazi as Libya’s “Cultural Capital”, when the gunmen opened fire on his armoured minibus. The diplomat was uninjured.
For their part, Benghazi council demanded that the Ministry of the Interior act over poor security in the city, while also moving swiftly to identify and arrest the attackers.
The council called on local civil society institutions and leading figures and scholars to support the Ministry in its efforts to combat violence.
Government sources have indicated that, because of this latest attack on envoys – US ambassador Christ Stevens and three colleagues were murdered in September , a few weeks after a failed attack on the British ambassador – there are plans to create a special diplomatic protection force.
There may however be ministers who doubt the wisdom of such separate body. It would have, in any event, to work in close cooperation with local police, as diplomats moved around the country. Moreover its creation and maintenance might take funding and focus away from the police, whose lack of training and resources has meant the force has struggled to cope with violence in the east of the country.