By Nigel Ash
Tripoli, 20 August 2013:
The last close support vehicle in a three-car convoy carrying EU Ambassador Nataliya Apostolova, was rammed . . .[restrict]outside the Corinthia Hotel and its occupants robbed at gun point. When the EU vehicle later tried to leave the scene, the thieves opened fire on it.
The ambassador’s car, which with the lead security escort, had been ahead of the attacked vehicle, appears not to have been targeted. Both EU cars left the location at speed.
A formal complaint has been lodged with the Libyan government over the attack, which took place in broad daylight yesterday afternoon, as the ambassador’s convoy left the Corinthia on its way to her residence in Palm City.
An EU source explained that the “soft-skinned” escort vehicle had been hit by another car without plates. “The close protection officer on board got out to speak to the other driver and was threatened with a gun. The men then stole some articles from the car ”, explained the source.
The EU security man re-boarded his vehicle and his driver sought to leave the scene. At this point, several shots were fired at it. There were no injuries to the EU personnel apart from some bruising sustained by the close protection officer. The damaged white EU vehicle returned to the Corinthia parking area, where guests noted its smashed rear window.
It has been alleged that security staff at the Corinthia garage opposite the attack, had not sought to intervene during the incident. In addition, a police vehicle had reportedly driven up to the crime scene and, perhaps because the officers inside had seen the robbers’ guns, it had also held back from becoming involved.
The EU ambassador’s own armoured vehicle and its surviving escort continued safely to Palm City. In recent days there have apparently been concerns that EU vehicles may have been shadowed by unidentifiable vehicles.