DUBAI, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – A group of armed gunmen opened fire on the Russian embassy in Tripoli on Wednesday night, in an attack that Libyan media speculated may have been motivated by a Russian woman killing a Libyan Air Force serviceman in the days before.
The Libyan Internal Affairs Ministry said that a group of about ten people driving two cars opened fire on the embassy, tried to break into the compound, and set fire to an embassy car.
Libyan security guards intervened, killing one of the gunmen and wounding four more, the Associated Press reported, after which the attackers fled.
None of the embassy staff and local security forces were injured, the ministry said, although the front face of the building was slightly damaged.
LANA, the country’s official news agency, quoted an unnamed Libyan interior ministry official as saying that “most likely, the attackers have expressed their protest against the killing of a Libyan army air service mechanic.”
Libyan media earlier reported that police had arrested a Russian woman on Tuesday on suspicion that she had shot the Libyan officer to death in his home in Tripoli and injured his mother.
Libya’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister thanked security forces for their help in protecting the embassy, LANA reported, and an investigation to identify the perpetrators of the attack is ongoing.
The attack is symptomatic of continued volatility in Libya in the two years following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Clans and tribal rivalries, as well as militant Islamist groups, have flourished in the absence of a strong central government.
Syrian protesters stormed the same embassy in Tripoli in February last year in protest after Russia and China vetoed a UN draft resolution, which called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign as a result of increasing violence from the country’s ongoing civil war.
The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when an armed Islamist mob stormed the American consulate in Benghazi in September 2012.
Updated to include attackers injured and killed, plus additional quotes, background, and detail throughout