An explosion outside the U.S. mission in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi caused no injuries but heightened concerns about instability in the country as it plans for elections. A U.S. official said the administration "deplores the attack" outside the diplomatic office and will continue to support democracy in Libya.
A U.S. official in Libya says the attack late Tuesday damaged the front gate of the mission. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told VOA that the main building was not affected.
The explosion near the U.S. diplomatic office came a day after Libya's main airport reopened following the seizure of the facility by disgruntled militiamen.
It also happened hours after U.S. officials said a drone strike in northwestern Pakistan killed al-Qaida's second in command, ( Abu Yahya al-Libi ) who was a Libyan national. U.S. diplomats reportedly asked for increased security in Libya.
David Bachmann, the head of the Austrian embassy's commercial section, told VOA that foreigners in Libya have to learn to "cope" with what he calls an escalating "unquiet" situation.
"In Benghazi, it's like every second night, every other night, there's something going on there. So you start losing overview with all the things going on like the Tripoli airport, Benghazi, ... it's simply sometimes too much,” said Bachmann.
But Bachmann says members of the business community have tight security in place in Tripoli and won't change their behavior due to bombs in Benghazi.
"We know where we are, and companies over here all know that it's not the easiest place, but they act accordingly,” said Bachmann.
The explosion in Benghazi comes two weeks before Libya is scheduled to hold its first free national elections since former dictator Moammar Gadhafi was killed last year amid a popular uprising.
Tensions are rising ahead of the June 19 voting for a 200-member assembly that will write a new constitution and form a government. Violence between tribal factions and the interim government have led to reports that elections could be delayed.
Fadi Tarapolsi is a Libyan American who returned to Libya to celebrate his country’s liberty.
“There’s some frustration there and they want to see some movement, but, at the same time, we are basically building everything from scratch, so it’s very important to do it right the first time,” said Tarapolsi.
Western nations are counting on the elections to forge democracy in Libya.