Last updated: 18 June, 2012

Gunmen storm Tunisian consulate in Libya’s Benghazi

Gunmen on Monday stormed the Tunisian consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, diplomatic and security sources told AFP, without reporting casualties.

“The Tunisian consulate has been stormed by armed men,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity, blaming the attack on a local brigade known as the Partisans of Shariah, or Islamic law.

A Tunisian embassy official in Tripoli confirmed the report and said that employees at the consulate had been threatened ahead of the attack. He said no one was wounded in the assault.

Libyan security forces deployed in mass to the consulate and took back the building from the armed men who withdrew without resistance, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The violence is the latest in a wave of attacks focused on diplomats and international organisations in Benghazi, cradle of the popular uprising that toppled Moamer Khadafi’s regime last year.

It comes just a week after a convoy carrying the British ambassador to Libya was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the same city. A small bomb was planted outside the US consulate in Benghazi on June 6.

The spike in violence comes as the North African nation prepares to elect a general national congress, with the vote set for July 7. Such incidents raise concerns that radical Islamists are on the rise in post-revolutionary Libya.

Tunisian authorities on Monday said that they had arrested more than 140 people, most of them fundamentalist Salafist Muslims, and charged them with attacking police posts and torching a court house during last week’s riots.