A group made up of about 60 people on Wednesday tried to force their way into the compound of the Russian embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the attackers had first opened fired at the embassy building.
The attempt was however repelled and the attack foiled by security guards who fired back on the attackers. Nobody was hurt diplomatic sources said. The embassy was empty at the time.
The attack was also reported by the Russian Itar Tass news agency that cited unnamed sources as saying that the attackers opened fire and tore the Russian flag. As a precaution, Russian embassy staffs were taken to the airport for safety.
The situation did not take long to calm down, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on state television. He said: “In Tripoli ...a shooting occurred and there was an attempt to enter the territory of the Russian embassy."
This was the latest of a number of attacks on diplomats by militant groups. In the country that is struggling to maintain order after the February 17 Revolution two years ago that ousted from power the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
In September last year, in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Reuters news agency quoted a Libyan security source saying that the attack on the Russian embassy did not appear to be directly linked to any militant group. He said the crowd was angered by the killing, as they saw it, of a Libyan by a Russian woman.
"The group attacked the compound as an act of revenge, because of the killing of the Libyan," the security source has been reported saying, and added that the Libyan authorities were searching for the gunmen.