US condemns attacks on embassies in Libya


Published: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 5:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 5:38 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The United States on Sunday condemned attacks on embassies in Libya’s capital, a day after officials said a NATO missile strike had killed one of the sons of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

“We have seen reports indicating that British, Italian and U.S. diplomatic facilities in Tripoli have been attacked,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “If true, we condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms.”

Toner added: “The Vienna Convention requires that the Gaddafi regime protect diplomatic missions in Tripoli. By failing to do so that regime has once again breached its international responsibilities and obligations.”

Vandals attacked embassies in the Libyan capital Sunday, prompting the United Nations to pull its international staff out of Tripoli.

A Libyan anti-Gadhafi activist who toured Tripoli described scorch marks outside the U.S. Embassy’s windows and a green Libyan flag draped over the roof on one side. The windows in the guard shack at the entrance were smashed, said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The U.S. evacuated its diplomatic staff at the start of the Libyan crisis, leaving Turkey to represent American interests in the country.

The British embassy buildings, including the ambassador’s residence, were burned down by an angry mob, the British Foreign Office said. Britain responded by announcing that it was expelling the Libyan ambassador to London.

The Italian embassy in Tripoli was also burned, the Italian Foreign Ministry said. Italy had withdrawn its diplomats weeks ago.

Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Arab was reportedly killed Saturday by a NATO strike on a Gadhafi compound in Tripoli. Libyan officials denounced the strike as an assassination attempt and a violation of international law.

NATO acknowledged it had struck a “command and control building,” but insisted all its targets are military in nature and linked to Gadhafi’s systematic attacks on the population.

“It was not targeted against any individual,” NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said Sunday, adding the report of the deaths remained unconfirmed.

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