Car bomb kills policeman in Libya's Benghazi

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 16, 2013 1:29 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A car bomb killed a police officer in Benghazi on Wednesday, a police source said, the second such attack in as many days and the Libyan government said it was considering imposing a night time curfew on the eastern city.

Like much of Libya, Benghazi - cradle of the popular revolt that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 - is awash with weapons. The Tripoli government has struggled to control rival armed factions there since the uprising.

Attacks on British, Italian, Red Cross and United Nations properties and personnel there in the past year highlight the precarious security in the North African state.

Wednesday's attack killed policeman Salah al-Wizry as he arrived home in the early hours. "He was killed in front of his house by a bomb planted in his vehicle," a police source said.

On Monday, at least one police officer was wounded when attackers threw a grenade at a patrol car in Benghazi.

On Tuesday, Italy - the former colonial power in Libya - suspended activity at its consulate in Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city, and withdrew staff for security reasons after a gun attack on its consul at the weekend.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Guido De Sanctis's armored car. He was unhurt but the incident recalled the September 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.

American officials say Islamist militants with ties to al Qaeda affiliates were most likely involved in that attack.

In Tripoli, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said his government and the General National Congress would consider imposing a night-time curfew on Benghazi.

"The situation in Benghazi in the last few days has not been good. We are talking with the congress about a curfew for Benghazi and maybe other cities," he told reporters.

Zeidan denied Benghazi would become a military zone, as Libya's desert south was declared last month because of increasing lawlessness.

To keep a degree of order, Libya's government relies on numerous militias made up of thousands of Libyans who took up arms against Gaddafi. The groups provide what passes for official security but also what poses the main threat to it.

In November, the city's police chief was shot dead and attacks on police officers and buildings are frequent.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib in Benghazi and Ali Shuaib in Tripoli; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mark Heinrich)