UNITED NATIONS, October 5 (RIA Novosti) – The UN Security Council has strongly condemned an attack on the Russian embassy in Tripoli, Libya, earlier this week, which damaged the diplomatic premises.
A group of unknown assailants fired shots at the embassy on Wednesday and attempted to break into the building, but they fled the scene after several were killed. On Thursday, Russia evacuated the embassy’s staff and their family members, 52 people.
“Such acts are unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whosoever committed,” said a statement issued Friday by Security Council members as quoted on the UN website.
The 15-member Council urged the Libyan authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and staff, and to respect their relevant international commitments.
Libyan police accused a Russian woman of murdering a Libyan Air Force officer on October 1, prompting the victim's friends and relatives to attack the Russian Embassy Wednesday night in revenge, the authorities said.
Russia evacuated its entire embassy staff and their families to neighboring Tunisia after the attack, claiming the Libyan authorities could not guarantee their safety - a claim Libya denied. On Friday, the staff arrived in Moscow.
The Russian woman whose alleged murder of a Libyan Air Force officer prompted the attack on the Russian Embassy was a former professional powerlifter who studied in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, regional officials said. They identified her as Yekaterina Ustyuzhaninova.
Both Russia’s and Libya’s Foreign Ministries say the murder of Libyan Air Force officer Mohammed Soussi was the motivation for the assault on the embassy.
Libyan police arrested Ustyuzhaninova for allegedly shooting Soussi to death in his home and stabbing his mother. A graphic video circulating on Facebook, reportedly of Soussi's murder scene, showed blood pooled around a body on the floor, with “Death to rats” written in blood in English on the wall beside it.
In response, a group of about 10 armed attackers, purportedly Soussi's friends and relatives, stormed the Russian Embassy compound in Tripoli Wednesday night, breaking into the complex and setting fire to an embassy car in a pitched battle with security guards.
Russia’s ambassador to Libya, Ivan Molotkov, told journalists the attackers were “armed to the teeth” and engaged in “indiscriminate firing,” riddling windows, doors and walls with bullets.
Two attackers were killed and two more were seriously injured during the ensuing firefight, the Libyan Foreign Ministry said, before the remainder of the mob drove off. Embassy staff took cover in protected areas of the consulate and none were injured.
Libya has officially apologized for the attack and said it was ready to pay for all damage sustained in the incident, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Friday.
There are conflicting reports about the woman’s relationship to the victim. One local media account said she killed him because he had supported the ousting of Libya’s former leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Media earlier reported that Ustyuzhaninova was a fervent Gadhafi loyalist, though the connection between the deceased leader and Soussi’s murder are unclear and unconfirmed.
Libya has remained volatile in the two years after Gadhafi’s ousting, riven by clan and tribal rivalries, and with militant Islamist groups flourishing in the absence of a strong central government.
Syrian protesters stormed the same embassy in Tripoli in February last year in protest after Russia and China vetoed a UN draft resolution, which called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign as a result of increasing violence from the country’s ongoing civil war.
The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when an armed Islamist mob attacked the American consulate in Benghazi in September 2012.
Updates with details in graf 13.