Car Bomb Targets French Embassy In Tripoli; First Libyan Attack On Foreign Mission Since Benghazi

on April 23 2013 7:21 AM

[UPDATE 3:50 p.m. EDT] The Supreme Security Committee of the Libyan government reports that online chatter from jihadists suggest the attack was a response to France's invovlement in battling Islamic militants in Mali. Several neighboring residents were injured, including an 18-year-old woman who suffered spinal injuries when a kitchen door was blown from its hinges. She was transported to neighboring Tunisia for medical treatment, reports the local Libya Herald. The young woman could be the victim  identified in earlier international media reports as a 13-year-old girl who suffered spinal injuries and was transported to Tunisia for treatment.

[UPDATE 9:02 a.m. EDT] French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is on his way to Tripoli, according to the BBC. The girl injured in the attack is suffering a spinal chord injury, the report added. Tripoli security chief Mahmud al-Sherif told the AFP the blast occured at 7:10 a.m., and that it was not a suicide attack. The Libya Herald reported that a neighbor videotaped the vehicle approaching at 7:05 a.m. on his home security camera and overheard someone yell "Allahu Akhbar" ("God is Great") in the vicinity of the vehicle prior to the explosion.

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In the first attack of its kind since the Sept. 11, 2012, fatal attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, a car bomb exploded in front of the French Embassy in Tripoli around 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, reportedly injuring two building guards and possibly also a 13-year-old girl in a neighboring house.

There is enormous destruction,” a French diplomat told the local Libya Herald, which said one guard was in serious condition.

No one has yet taken credit for the attack, but Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has vowed attacks on France because of its military operations against Islamic extremists in Mali.

Images on Sky News showed the white two-story villa in the uptown Hay Andalus district scarred by the explosion and the flaming remains of a sedan believed to have been booby trapped. Both CNN and Sky said two building guards were injured. CNN quoted an official who said a girl was also injured.

"The engine block of the car landed quite a way from the embassy, so it was quite a strong blast,” William Crisp, a journalist working the scene, told Sky News. Several vehicles along the block were damaged by the blast.

Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Awad Barasi told CNN that the girl was in an adjacent house and was being sent to neighboring Tunisia for treatment. No one has claimed credit for the first attack on a foreign mission in Libya since the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in September, which killed four, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

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