Tue, Apr 14, 2015 - Page 6 News List

US, Europe urge Libya ceasefire

SECURITY THREAT:A bomb exploded outside the Moroccan embassy, before attackers opened fire on the S Korean embassy, with both attacks claimed by the Islamic State


The US and European powers pressed Libya’s rival factions to set an “unconditional” ceasefire at talks restarting yesterday, as two attacks on foreign embassies were linked to Islamic State militants.

A bomb exploded outside the Moroccan embassy in Tripoli, causing no casualties, but damaging nearby cars, a security official said.

Like many others in the Libyan capital, the embassy is currently inactive.

Morocco is hosting a UN-backed dialogue between representatives of the two rival governments controlling the country, separate to talks that were due to resume yesterday in Algeria.

The bombing came hours after attackers opened fire on South Korea’s embassy compound from a passing car on Sunday, killing two Libyan guards and wounding a third person.

A photographer said a vehicle used by the security guards was riddled with bullet holes, while it appeared that the main embassy building had not been hit.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul confirmed the attack, saying three South Koreans working at the embassy — including two diplomats — were unhurt.

That attack was claimed by the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, and tweets from Islamic State supporters used similar wording to claim responsibility for the Moroccan embassy bombing.

“A bomb inside a bag went off near the gate of the Moroccan embassy in Bin Ashour area” in central Tripoli, the security official said, adding “there were no casualties.”

“The sound of the explosion was very strong and the [embassy] house was shaking for a few seconds,” one witness said.

Libya has been plagued by chaos since the end of the 2011 revolt that toppled former Libyan leager Muammar Qaddafi, with heavily armed militias battling for control of its cities and oil wealth, and rival governments and parliaments vying for power.

The country has had two governments and parliaments since Tripoli was seized in August last year by the Fajr Libya militia and the internationally recognized government fled to the country’s far east.

Europe’s leading powers and the US pressed the rival factions to set an “unconditional” ceasefire at yesterday’s talks in Algiers on forming a unity government.

“We strongly urge all participants to the dialogue to negotiate in good faith and use this opportunity to finalize agreements on the formation of a national unity government,” a statement issued by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain and the US said.

“Only through compromise can Libya move toward a more secure, stable and prosperous future,” it said.

The 28-nation EU fears Libya could become a direct security threat, while more and more refugees seeking safety in Europe present a major humanitarian problem.

The Algiers dialogue was taking place against the specter of the Islamic State’s ever more violent incursions onto Libyan soil.

It has claimed responsibility for several high-profile attacks on foreign targets in Libya, including an assault in January on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians. It has also targeted embassies in Tripoli and oil fields to kidnap foreign workers.

Last month, four Filipinos, an Austrian and four other foreigners were abducted in an attack on the al-Ghani oil field by Islamic State militants, killing eight guards.

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