An explosion near the French embassy in Tripoli injured two security guards and a 13-year old girl Tuesday morning. The explosion marks the first major assault on a Western target in Libya since the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
The car bomb detonated around 7:00 am in a residential area of Libya’s capital city, leaving a scene of devastation across the area. The blast destroyed the compound’s ground floor and exterior wall and damaged nearby homes.
In response, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius flew to Tripoli and condemned the bombing describing it as “cowardly.” While touring the scene of the attack with Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, Fabius told reporters that Libyan officials pledged to find and punish the “terrorists” responsible.
The aftermath of an attack on the French embassy in Tripoli, Libya. (Photo: AFP)
Although no group has claimed responsibility yet for the bomb, militant Islamists such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have threaten retaliation for the mid-January French intervention in Mali. According to the Financial Times, government “officials acknowledge that the recent intervention to drive Islamist militants out of Mali had pushed jihadists across the border into neighbouring countries, including Libya.” Western embassies across the region now operate at a higher state of alert since France invaded earlier this year. Earlier this week France’s Parliament voted to extend its operation in the West African country.
France’s intervention along with the security vacuum left by the Arab unrest, have resulted in attacks across the region, especially against Western targets. Radical jihadists, including groups like AQIM, can now more easily travel across porous borders. Militants carried out a terrorist attack against a Western operated Algerian oil facility in January killing 37 people. The Red Cross, along with the infamous assault on a U.S. mission, also came under attack in Benghazi, Libya as well.