Italian consulate in Benghazi burnt, many killed in cartoon protests
Libya-Italy, Politics, 2/18/2006
News were contradictory over the number of persons killed or wounded in the confrontations between Libyan demonstrators and the police forces in front of the Italian consulate in Benghazi during protests against European cartoons that defamed prophet Muhammad following Friday's prayers.
While the Italian ambassador in Libya was quoted as saying that at least ten persons were killed in the clashes, Libyan unofficial sources said that between 15 to 25 persons were killed in the bloody clashes in addition to large number of injured people, while one employee at the Italian consulate estimated that 55 persons were killed or injured.
A Libyan official statement stressed on Friday evening that at least one was killed and other 10 injured in the clashes.
The confrontations came after some 1000 protesters tried to burn the headquarters of the Italian consulate and many of the demonstrators were able to sneak into the consulate and set fire in the first floor of the building in addition to burning several cars including police cars and one car for the consulate.
The people's leadership in Benghazi issued a statement in which it condemned the burning of the consulate and considered it as an irresponsible act and did not reflect the Libyan people. The leadership also called for opening investigation on the way the police dealt with this incident.
The Italian ambassador in Tripoli met with the Libyan foreign minister Abdul Rahman Shalqam who stressed to the ambassador that this case will not have negative impact on the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Libya, had closed its embassy in Denmark by the end of January in protest of the said cartoons.
The demonstrations which started following Friday's prayers came after the Italian institutional reform minister announced he will wear a shit bearing the cartoons that defamed the prophet. A matter which ignited the feelings of anger in the Islamic world.
The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi asked the minister to submit his resignation and after this request the minister expressed readiness to give his resignation under the condition that the Islamic world will create an initiative according to which "weapons, bombs and terrorism" are stopped and the dialogue is opened between the Islamic and the western world.
The Benghazi clashes are considered the most recent in the series of the acts of violence which escorted the protests in the Islamic world over the cartoon which was published in the Danish paper in September 2005 and were reprinted by other European papers.
The Danish embassies in Jakarta, Tehran, Damascus, and Beirut were attacked, and also violent acts of protests targeted the diplomatic missions of other western countries.
In preliminary statistics, protests linked to printing the cartoons against the prophet resulted in killing at least 29 persons.
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