Blast damages home of Iranian ambassador in Libya

AP News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2015 4:03 PM
Blast damages home of Iranian ambassador in Libya

CAIRO (AP) — A bomb blast outside the Iranian ambassador's house in Libya's capital on Sunday which caused minor damage to the empty building was claimed by militants affiliated with the Islamic State group.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham condemned the "terrorist" attack, which she said claimed no lives. She called on political rivals in Libya to form a national unity government to end the country's escalating chaos.

Twitter accounts used by Islamic State supporters said the attack was carried out by the group's branch in Tripoli and posted pictures from the site of the explosion. There are growing concerns that the Islamic State has spread beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and established a foothold in Libya, just across the sea from Europe. There was no official statement from the group claiming responsibility for the attack.

The group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings Friday in eastern Libya that killed at least 40 people in what the group said was retaliation for Egyptian airstrikes against the extremists' aggressive new branch in North Africa.

The Sunday attack only caused minor damage to the home of the Iranian ambassador, who is out of the country, according to a Libyan security official in Tripoli, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to brief reporters.

The Sunni extremist group considers Shiite Muslims, who make up the majority of Iran's population, as apostates. Tehran is a strong backer of both the Syrian and Iraqi governments, which are at war with the Islamic State group.

The Sunday explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device placed among garbage bags outside the ambassador's house. The official said there were no casualties from the blast, which rocked the capital.

Libya is teeming with rival militias, while a political dispute has split the oil-rich nation between two competing governments, an internationally recognized one based in the east and another in Tripoli. Islamic militants have thrived in the chaos.