A car bomb destroyed about half of the French Embassy in Libya early today (April 23, 2013) in the most significant attack against a Western interest in the country since the killing last September of the American ambassador, Christopher Stevens, according to the New York Times website.
Two guards were injured in the explosion -- one critically -- but most of the employees had not yet arrived, Libyan and French officials said.
The attack was a new blow to the transitional government's hopes to establish an improved sense of public security after the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi nearly two years ago. It was the largest blast in Tripoli since the end of his rule, one of the largest in a string of attacks on diplomatic missions, and the first major one in the capital.
Both the French and Libyan governments labeled the explosion an act of terror, and the pattern of attacks on Western diplomatic missions indicated the responsibility of Islamist militants. Many Libyan militants have vowed to fight what they see as a foreign crusade to remake their country as a Western-style liberal democracy instead of an Islamic state. They also resent the Western powers for their recent military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the history of European colonialism in most of Africa.