By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 20 May 2013:
A small explosive device blew up in the car park across the road from the Tripoli’s . . .[restrict]closed Grand Hotel (El Kebir) late this afternoon. There was no damage but it caused friction between journalists and security officials who threatened to take action if a report of the blast was published.
The explosion happened shortly after 5 pm, when an unknown device was thrown from a Toyota Hilux into the almost empty car park, before the vehicle sped away.
A taxi driver, who was nearby when the explosion happened, said it was so loud he stopped the car. His Egyptian passenger, he said, looked terrified and looked ready to jump out of the car and run away. There was a lot of white smoke following the detonation, he said.
Three witnesses gave statements to members of the police, who said that they heard the explosion from their office nearby and were on the scene within minutes.
The explosive device left a very small mark on the ground where it landed. Witnesses said that it could have been a gelatina, but also could have just been some sort of firework.
Police at the site were very helpful to a reporter but, after they left the scene, other security personnel, who had recently arrived, became more threatening. The men, who did not identify themselves but were in a red and white security vehicle, demanded one journalist’s details, saying: “We just want to make sure that you don’t exaggerate things.” This was “normal procedure” they said but were threatening in their manner and one man implied that they would pursue the journalist if the story was printed.
Earlier in the morning, a man was quickly surrounded and detained by police 20 metres or so further along on the Corniche towards Martyrs Square after he was seen placing a package under a parked taxi. [/restrict]