By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 12 June:
Terrorists attacked the Red Cross offices in Misrata early this morning. A bomb, believed to be home-made, . . .[restrict]exploded at one the buildings in the Red Cross complex in the city at 3.50am. A young Libyan, the son of the owner of the complex, was wounded in the blast but his injuries were not thought to be serious. There were no other casualties. There was, however, material damage to the buildings.
This is the second attack on an office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the country in three weeks. On 22 May, the ICRC offices in Benghazi were damaged in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Ten days later, a group calling itself the Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman Brigade claimed to have carried out the assault because, it said, the ICRC was distributing Bibles and trying to convert Libyans to Christianity.
The claims are seen as absurd by most Libyans and foreign observers alike.
Confirming today’s attack, Soaade Messoudi, the ICRC’s Communications Coordinator in Tripoli said that the organisation was “extremely concerned” about the latest incident. It had been in touch with the authorities who had visited the site in the morning.
She pointed out that the ICRC had been working in Libya since last year to address humanitarian issues and that it has been fully supported and approved by the Libyan authorities. It was, she said, “not involved in politics or religion”. It worked very closely with the Libyan Red Crescent and was the founding body of the worldwide Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. The fact that its emblem was a cross was irrelevant, she added. The organisation’s “emblems have no religious significance whatsoever”.
The reason the ICRC uses a red cross is because it started in Switzerland and the Red Cross symbol is a reverse image of the Swiss flag.
The so-called Omar Abdul Rahman Brigade, named after the blind Egyptian sheikh serving a life sentence in the US for the bomb attack on New York’s World Trade Center in 1993, has also claimed responsibility for the bomb attack at the US consulate in Benghazi a week ago.
There are, however, serious doubts to as to whether the brigade was involved in either of the attacks or even exists. When it claimed to have attacked the Red Cross building in Benghazi, it specifically denied that it had attacked the nearby Sahara bank which also suffered an RPG attack two hours later. Investigators believe both attack were carried out by the same people.
The concern now is that the Misrata blast is a copy cat attack by a separate group of militants and that there could be more elsewhere. [/restrict]