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French Embassy blast injures 3 in Libyan capital

| Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 9:36 p.m.

TRIPOLI — A car bomb exploded on Tuesday outside France's embassy in Tripoli, wounding three people and partially setting the building on fire in the worst attack on a diplomatic mission in Libya since U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed last year.

The attack in the heart of the capital put new pressure on Libya's new leaders to rein in the lawlessness that has gripped the country since 2011, when rebels ousted Moammar Gadhafi in a civil war and then refused to lay down their arms.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on the militias and the extremists in their ranks who are fighting the central government in Tripoli for control.

Some Libyans blame Islamic militants seeking to avenge France's military intervention in Mali to dislodge al-Qaida-linked forces from the northern part of the West African country.

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear. On its official website, the Libyan government denounced such attacks, which it said are “directly targeting Libya's security and stability.”

France's President Francois Hollande called the bombing an assault on all countries engaged in the fight against terrorism.

“France expects the Libyan authorities to shed the fullest light on this unacceptable act so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice,” Hollande said.

The Obama administration condemned the violence. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell called it “a direct attack on all Libyans who fought a revolution in order to enjoy a democratic future with security and prosperity.”

“We look to the Libyan government to continue its efforts to strengthen security across Libya and to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” he said.

The bombing was the first in Tripoli, which has been relatively quiet; however, the eastern city of Benghazi experienced a rise in violence last year.

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