October 3, 2013 - 11:00 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A group of unidentified persons fired at the Russian embassy in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Wednesday, Oct 2, and attempted to break in, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to RIA Novosti.
“According to preliminary reports, no one of the embassy staff was injured,” Maria Zakharova, deputy director of the ministry’s press and information department, told Echo of Moscow radio station.
“We are working to clarify the details of what has happened,” she added.
"The attackers opened fire and tore the Russian flag," ITAR-TASS news agency quoted unnamed sources as saying. Embassy staff had been taken to the airport as a precaution.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Russian state television the situation had calmed. "In Tripoli ...a shooting occurred and there was an attempt to enter the territory of the Russian embassy."
The attack was symptomatic of volatility in Libya two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Clan and tribal rivalries, as well as Islamist groups, have flourished in the absence of strong central government. Security services, themselves riven, have struggled to maintain order.
There have been a number of attacks on Western diplomats by militant groups. Militants linked to al Qaeda affiliates attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept 11, 2012.
However, one Libyan security source said the attack did not appear to be directly linked to any militant group. He said the crowd were angered by the killing, as they saw it, of a Libyan by a Russian woman.
"The group attacked the compound as an act of revenge, because of the killing of the Libyan," said the security source. The embassy was empty at the time, according to Reuters.
The sources said Libyan authorities were searching for the gunmen.
Western powers, using air power, led the military campaign that ultimately toppled Gaddafi. Russia, which had had close relations with Gaddafi, did not take part in the action and condemned what it called the West's abuse of a United Nations Security Council to intervene.