Italy closes Libya embassy following Benghazi attack


A security guard points at bullet impacts on the vehicle of Italy's consul to Benghazi, on January 12, 2013, in front of the Tibesti hotel in Benghazi. Italy's consul to Benghazi in eastern Libya escaped unscathed after an attack on his bullet-proof car in the city on January 12, Italian news agency ANSA reported, quoting local security sources. The car in which the consul, Guido De Sanctis, was travelling was shot at but no one was injured, the report said.


Abdullah Doma

Italy has temporarily shut down its embassy in Libya's Benghazi in response to a gun attack on its consul over the weekend, according to Reuters

Saturday's attack targeted Guido De Sanctis, who survived it unharmed, reported The New York Times

Italy's foreign ministry issued a statement saying the attempt on the consul's life is “further proof of the international community’s need to intensify support for the Libyan people and institutions," said NYT. All staff have been withdrawn from the Italian consulate, said Reuters

The US embassy in Benghazi was targeted in a September attack that killed the American ambassador and three others, heightening security concerns as the country seeks stability following the overthrow of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

But that attack looks to have saved De Sanctis' life this weekend. He was driving in an armored car issued to him in the wake of the September violence when gunmen fired on his vehicle, said NYT, effectively shielding him from the attack. 

The Libyan government vowed to track down the attackers on the Italian embassy and is said to be assembling a special security force to monitor embassy areas. 

Libya is a former Italian colony.