TRIPOLI: The US diplomatic mission in Libya’s main eastern city of Benghazi came under attack during the night but there were no casualties, embassy and security officials said Wednesday.
“There was an attack late last night on the United States office in Benghazi,” a US embassy official said, adding only the gate was damaged and that no one was hurt.
The diplomat said a homemade bomb had been used in the attack on the office, set up after the 2011 uprising against Muammar Qaddafi and kept open to support the democratic transition.
“The US deplores the attack on its diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” he said, adding a request had been made to Libyan authorities to step up security around US facilities in the North African nation.
He said there was no claim of responsibility.
But a security official in Benghazi said the attack was claimed by the Prisoner Omar Abdelrahman Group, which had left a letter “threatening American interests” in Libya.
The same group — which is named after an Egyptian sentenced to life in prison in the United States — claimed a May 22 attack on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the security official said.
The latest attack comes hot on the heels of the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a master al Qaeda propagandist and a Libyan national targeted by a US drone strike in Pakistan.
Deputy Interior Minister Unis al-Sharef said an explosive device detonated about 500 metres (yards) from the US premises at around 3:00 am (0100 GMT), adding the building itself was not hit.
Sharef said the attack could have been linked to the announcement of Libi’s death.
“Abu Yahya al-Libi has backers in this country and this (attack) could have been carried out by them,” he told AFP.
The minister confirmed the attack had been claimed by the Prisoner Omar Abdelrahman Group, but downplayed the significance of the organisation.
“These are religious groups and these acts are just reactions. There are not coordinated operations,” he stressed.
Sheikh Omar Abdelrahman, 73, received a life sentence in the United States for his involvement in plots to hit New York targets and a plan to assassinate former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Abdelrahman, known as the “Blind Sheikh,” is also cited as one of the inspirations for the first attack on the World Trade Center, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000 in 1993.
Mohammed al-Harizi, spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council, condemned the attack and said the authorities were trying to get more information on the incident.