Gulf of Sidra, Cyrenaica and Benghazi
The security of foreign diplomats was again undermined, after Italy’s Consul-General in Benghazi, Guido de Sanctis, was attacked in the city late on 12 January. Gunmen were reported to have opened fire on an armoured minibus carrying the Consul-General, but the diplomat was unhurt. The incident happened whilst de Sanctis had been driving away from the Tibesti hotel where he had been attending a conference. To date no one had claimed responsibility for the attack. Italy subsequently closed its consulate in the city.
This recent security incident is unlikely to change the opinion in Libya and abroad that security in Benghazi is on a downward spiral and unsafe for foreign diplomats. This recent attack against a foreign diplomatic presence followed the failed attack against British ambassador in Benghazi in June 2012 and the much publicized attack against the US embassy in September 2012. Whilst there are government sources suggesting a creation of a special diplomatic protection force, this is unlikely to have any immediate effect, especially in the light of the ongoing difficulties in reining in militias and the rebuilding military and police forces.
Communications in Benghazi fell into chaos on 9 January when an offshore communications cable between Benghazi and Brega was cut. A number of reports claimed that communications were significantly disrupted and flights in and out of Benina airport were cancelled.
Elsewhere, Press Solidarity reported an assault on a police station in Al Marj on 12 January. According to the report, a number of protesters had been arrested following earlier protests over late salary payments. While the arrested individual were being held at the Al Marj police station, an unidentified group was reported to have opened fire at the police station, in what appeared to have been an attempted jailbreak. In a separate report, Libya Al Mustakbal reported that rebels in Galo handed over a large quantity of weapons and ammunition to government forces in the presence of the local council and town elders on 10 January.
The Libya Herald reported that a bomb was thrown at a police vehicle in Benghazi’s Kish district near Fuwaihat on the evening of 14 January. One police officer, believed to be the driver was reported killed. According to eyewitnesses, the bomb was thrown at the police vehicle by youths in another car which was driving past the scene of the attack.