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Gunmen open fire on Italian consul's car in Benghazi

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 11:51 AM EST, Sun January 13, 2013
Gunmen targeted the car of the Italian consul general in Benghazi, Libya, on Saturday as he was leaving the consulate.
Gunmen targeted the car of the Italian consul general in Benghazi, Libya, on Saturday as he was leaving the consulate.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • No one is injured, Consul General Guido de Sanctis says
  • The attack is the latest to rock the city in recent months
  • A September 11 assault on the U.S. consulate left four Americans dead

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Gunmen targeted the car of the Italian consul general in Benghazi, Libya, on Saturday as he was leaving the consulate, the latest in a series of attacks targeting foreign missions and security officials in the eastern city.

Consul General Guido de Sanctis was in an armored car pulling out of the garage when the gunmen pulled up alongside the vehicle and opened fire, the diplomat told CNN.

No one was injured.

Libyan police arrived immediately to secure the scene, said de Sanctis, who was unsure of who was behind the attack.

"It is difficult to make conclusions ... but if you look at the past months, some people are trying to send all the foreigners away," he said. "The British, the Red Cross and unfortunately the Americans -- now us? I was not sure we were on the list. I did not expect it at all."

The attack comes amid an ongoing investigation into the September 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

De Sanctis said security was reinforced at his consulate following the attack on the U.S. mission, but the building is not heavily fortified and is relatively open to the public, fielding as many as 40 visa requests from Libyans daily.

Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi called the attack "a vile act of terrorism," and said Sunday it was "an attempt to destabilize the institutions of the new Libya."

Benghazi has been shaken by such attacks in recent months.

A pro-al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross Office in the city in May. The next month, the same group claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device outside the U.S. Consulate.

Bomb attacks also occurred last year on a U.N. convoy as well as a convoy carrying the British ambassador. In November, unknown gunmen assassinated the city's temporary security director.

Tunisia frees man held in Benghazi attack

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