Libya's police to create diplomatic security force

Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — A special Libyan security force is being created to protect embassies and consulates after a wave of attacks by militants that highlights the serious deterioration in security over the past year, an official said Monday.

A brigadier general will lead the new force, Interior Ministry spokesman Magdi el-Urfi told The Associated Press. It will be made up of former rebels who have been integrated into the nation's police force.

He said setting up the force is in preliminary stages, and officials are studying international law governing the security of foreign dignitaries and buildings.

The announcement of a new security force comes four months after an assault on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi last September that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The U.S. suspects al-Qaida-linked militants carried out the attack.

There has been little news of progress so far in bringing the perpetrators to justice, and U.S. officials have complained about poor cooperation with the governments of the region in the investigation.

On Saturday, militants opened fire on the car of the Italian consul in Benghazi, where the Libyan uprising began in 2011. He was not hurt in the attack. Last year, the offices of the International Red Cross were attacked and the British ambassador to Libya was targeted. He also escaped unhurt.

Libya's security sharply deteriorated after the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. A new police force was formed under the Interior Ministry, but neither the police nor the military, which also draws heavily from former rebel groups, has been able to fully rein in militias that became well armed as weapons spread through the country during the civil war that ousted Gadhafi.

The White House signed off in late 2010 on a new counterterrorism task force in North Africa to combat what it believes is a growing threat from al-Qaida-linked militants in northern Mali, Libya and elsewhere in the region. An elite Delta Force team was sent to the region last year to set up an intelligence and targeting network.

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