Islamic State supporters claimed attacks on the vacated embassies of Morocco and South Korea in Tripoli, in the latest sign the group is seeking to exploit Libya’s instability.
A group calling itself the Tripoli chapter of Islamic State said on Twitter it was behind the assaults and posted photographs, according to SITE, a Bethesda, Maryland-based analyst of jihadist groups. The claims couldn’t be immediately authenticated.
The embassies had been abandoned as spiraling violence following the 2011 ouster and death of Muammar Qaddafi forced most countries to withdraw diplomatic staff from the capital. The bombing at the Moroccan mission was small and caused no casualties. Two guards were killed and another wounded in the drive-by shooting at the South Korean embassy, according to a South Korean Foreign Ministry statement.
“They were mostly a show for the media but the bigger picture is still one of concern,” Mattia Toaldo, a Libya expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said by phone from London. “Islamic State is growing and they are trying to keep tensions high.”
Libya, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, is split between a coalition of Islamist militias that control Tripoli, and an elected government based in the east. The conflict has damaged or shut oil fields, pipelines and ports and led to the displacement of about 400,000 people.
Islamic State loyalists have carved out bases in the cities of Derna and Sirte and claimed a number of assaults, including one on Tripoli’s Corinthia Hotel that killed nine people. The militants also beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians they had taken captive.