Libya plans diplomatic security force after attacks

Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:57pm EST
 

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ali Shuaib

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya plans to create a special force to protect diplomats, government sources said, after a gun attack on an Italian consul exposed the precarious security situation in the North African state.

Unidentified gunmen in Benghazi opened fire on Guido De Sanctis's armored car on Saturday. The diplomat was unhurt but the attack was a reminder of the September 11 attack on the U.S. mission there that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.

"We are discussing putting in place a force that would look after diplomats. There are also plans to protect foreigners working for foreign companies," a defense ministry source said, declining to be named as the proposal was still being discussed.

"The idea is it would be mixed between police and army but would likely come under the command of the defense ministry."

The source said the members were likely to be trained abroad but did not give an estimate of how many there would be.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi spoke by telephone to his Libyan counterpart to reaffirm Italy's resolve to help Libya reinforce its security.

Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Saturday's attack was "an attempt to destabilize the institutions of the new Libya."

"Italy expresses its strongest condemnation and reaffirms its total support of the democratic path and the reforms that the Tripoli authorities have started," he said in a statement.   Continued...

 
A security officer points to gun shots on the window of the Italian consul's car after it was shot by unknown assailants in Benghazi January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori