By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Tripoli, 3 October 2013:
Following Wednesday’s assault on the Russia’s Tripoli embassy in which the Tripoli Security Room says two attackers were killed, Moscow has evacuated all staff and families to Moscow via Tunisia, leaving only a skeleton team in Tunis to represent the country’s interests.
Russian sources say that diplomats had reportedly sheltered in safe rooms when the embassy in Dahra came under attack early on Wednesday evening, from militiamen linked to Suq Al-Jumah.
Reports from Moscow have suggested that the assault was launched by ten men in two cars . However, eye witnesses say that there were approaching 100 assailants, who after attacking and torching an embassy car outside the compound then scaled the wire-protected walls and got inside of the area.
Within the compound an Audi was also blown up, possibly with a gelatina. Some property was looted from buildings and a Russian flag was torn down.
Russian sources say that embassy security guards “along with one of the pro-government militias, managed to force the attackers out”.
The Russians have said that only one attacker was killed and four were injured. The Tripoli Control Room says two Libyans died and one man was shot in the hand, while the Tripoli Security Directorate today denied to the Libya Herald that there had been any deaths at all.
One eye-witness told this newspaper that the scene “was chaotic and out of control”. He added that although initially, the attackers appeared to be unarmed, weapons later appeared and were fired in the air.
The Tripoli Security Room said today that units were immediately sent to the area, though this newspaper’s informant said he saw no sign of them.
Foreign ministry sources in Russia reported that Libyan foreign minister Mohamed Abdulaziz visited the embassy early today. He is said to have recommended that Russian diplomats should leave, because local security forces were unable to protect from further attacks. It was not possible this evening to contact the foreign ministry to confirm this statement. According to Moscow reports, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov also received an assurance from Abdulaziz that Libya would act to protect Russian embassy property.
The attack has been linked to the murder of a militia leader in Suq Al-Jumah. He was shot seven times in his home with his own Kalashnikov, allegedly by a Russian woman. His mother, who was in the house at the time, was also attacked and stabbed in the shoulder and the hand. She is understood to be in a stable condition in a Tripoli hospital.
Reports have been circulating that the man was targeted for opposing Qaddafi during the revolution. However, a neighbour told the Libya Herald that the Russian woman was, in fact, the victim’s wife.
He said the pair married in Russia while while the man was studying for five years at the Suvorov military academy. After returning to Libya, the neighbour said,the militia leader told his wife that his mother refused to accept her as a daughter-in-law. The Russian woman, described as blonde-haired and blue-eyed, then came to Libya, allegedly entering the country on a journalist’s visa.
The woman was apprehended near the scene of the crime. Security sources have confirmed to the Libya Herald that she is being held in a prison facility in Mitiga, pending further investigations. The source added that she was being treated well.
Tonight there was continued police presence at outside the Russian Embassy.