TRIPOLI, Libya — A car bomb tore through a Libyan Foreign Ministry building in the eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday, a powerful reminder of lawlessness in the North African nation on the anniversary of a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate there as well as the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.
Prime Minister Ali Zidan issued a stern warning to militias blamed for much of the violence that has plagued Libya since the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi two years ago, proclaiming that “we will not bow to anyone.”
But the challenges are mounting. The prime minister said that armed men had just stormed a post office in the capital, Tripoli, taking employees hostage. A witness at the scene, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, told The Associated Press that the attackers were seeking to cut off mail to the southern city of Sabha in retaliation for a rival tribe from Sabha cutting off the water supply to Tripoli for a week, forcing hospitals and homes to rely on wells and large tanks.
Other groups have shut down oil fields to protest corruption or demand regional autonomy, causing the country to lose out on millions of dollars a day in potential revenue.
The Benghazi blast caused no deaths or serious injuries, but destroyed the Foreign Ministry branch building in an attack rich in symbolism. The building once housed the U.S. Consulate under the rule of King Idris, who was overthrown in 1969 in a bloodless coup led by Gadhafi.
The bombing took place about 6 a.m., well before anybody was due to arrive at the Foreign Ministry for work and at a time when the nearby streets were nearly empty.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came a day after bomb disposal experts defused an explosive device found next to the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Tripoli.