Italian consul in Benghazi escapes shooting unhurt

A Libyan security officer points to the damage of the bullet-proof vehicle in which Italy's consul to Benghazi was riding
Image caption The shots damaged the Italian consul's bullet-proof car, but the diplomat escaped unhurt

An Italian diplomat has come under fire in Libya's second city, Benghazi, but escaped unharmed.

Guido De Sanctis, the Italian consul in the city, was travelling in his bullet-proof car when unidentified gunmen opened fire.

The security of diplomats in Benghazi has caused concern for foreign governments following the death of US ambassador Christopher Stevens.

He was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi last September.

The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the circumstances of Saturday's shooting are unclear, but incidents of this kind have been all too common in Benghazi.

It is also unclear how the incident will affect Libyan-Italian relations.

At a recent economic forum, the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said security in Libya was essential to future Italian investment in the country.

Our correspondent says there has been a visible rise in Islamist militants in Benghazi since the civil war that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

They are being blamed for the deadly attack on the US consulate on 11 September and recent assassinations of local police chiefs.