Libya: U.S. Consulate comes under attack

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TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Consulate on Wednesday in the eastern city of Benghazi, a Libyan militia commander said, the latest example of lawlessness that has plagued the country since a civil war that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The attack came two weeks before the country is due to hold its first post-Gadhafi national elections.

Abdel-Basit Haroun, a militia commander in Benghazi who is cooperating with the government to restore security, said that the consulate came under attack at about 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDt) and that no casualties have been reported.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment, and further information was not available.

The transitional leadership based in the capital of Tripoli has failed to impose its authority on much of the oil-rich North African nation nearly eight months after Gadhafi was killed while in rebel custody. Instability has only increased as cities, towns, regions, militias and tribes all act on their own, setting up their independent power centers.

Earlier this week, a militia group briefly occupied the airport outside Tripoli with armored vehicles and automatic weapons, forcing airport authorities to divert flights to another Tripoli air base.

The fighters said they were protesting the abduction of their commander. The government regained control of the airport after several hours while the circumstances of the commander’s kidnapping were not known.

The country is preparing for its first general elections scheduled for June 19, when Libyans will choose a 200-member assembly that will form a panel to write a new constitution and a new government.

Election commission and government officials recently have given contradictory statements about the possibility that elections might be delayed, given the fragile security situation in Tripoli and other cities.

Some in the east, where the uprising against Gadhafi began, also have called for a boycott of the election because they want more representation.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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