By Elmehdi Hendi and Nigel Ash.
Tripoli, 25 April 2013:
French investigators were today still scouring the scene of Tuesday’s embassy bombing, while . . .[restrict]workmen outside in the street completed the repairs to the smashed water main. Shiny new corrugated iron sheets blocked off both the embassy and the devastated building opposite, both structures blackened in the blast. A digger manoeuvred around the crumpled remains of the bomber’s vehicle which had been pushed against the side of the road.
French gendarmes with “Police” written on their backs were still looking at the car, which was festooned with yellow tape reading, in English, “Crime scene. Do not cross”. The immediate area was made the more desolate by the dust from the Ghibli that has been blowing for the past three days.
Neighbours continued to wander up and down talking to each other. At the head of the street, Libyan police waved traffic on past and yelled at anyone who slowed and tried to rubberneck. A French camera crew conducted an interview with an investigator in the shadow of a water tower. “ I wonder if that thing has also been damaged” said a local man, looking up at it. “ I hope someone has been and checked it. Another said that he had been increasingly concerned about security in recent months and maintained that a French diplomat right outside the embassy, had had his car stolen at gunpoint about a month ago, despite the supposed presence of Libyan police and security personnel.
One owner of a neighbouring property said he had handed Libyan police the tapes from his security cameras, which he believed showed the bombers arrive in two or possibly three vehicles.
“There was no security here.” he told the Libya Herald, “ There was one police car but that was often not around. I don’t think it was here on Tuesday morning when the bombers struck. Why?” he asked.
Some Egyptian labourers who were working on the construction of a villa further up the street had fled the area after the blast, said another man, “I don’t think they were involved at all. They are just terrified, perhaps because they are illegals. They have not been back since.
On his flying visit on Tuesday afternoon, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had said that his country would be sending an investigating judge, who specialised terrorist-related matters to Tripoli to cooperate with the investigation. That judge, who as the Libya Herald reported, arrived on Wednesday, is due to complete her enquiries tomorrow.
Fabius went on to meet members of the French community and assured them that from his meetings with Premier Ali Zeidan, GNC president Mohamed Magarief and foreign minister, Mohamed Abdulaziz , the Libyans wanted the French community to stay. Fabius said that the friendship between Libya and France would survive the outrage and vowed that the terrorists would lose in the end. However, he also stressed the need for increased security among French nationals. [/restrict]