A gasoline bomb today gutted an American diplomat's car parked near the U.S. Marine guards' residence. The explosion was the first reported act of terrorism in Tunisia since the U.S. air strike against Libya.
No one was injured in the lunchtime attack in the Belvedere neighborhood, where many of the 200 embassy staff members and dependents live, according to U.S. diplomats.
Witnesses said a single man threw two gasoline bombs and then disappeared in a deserted side street.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, which followed Libyan calls for worldwide attacks against American interests after the U.S. air raids on Benghazi and Tripoli.
Embassy officials said they asked the Tunisian government for additional guards around diplomatic residences. The embassy was operating normally, however, and there were no plans to evacuate dependents following the car incident, they added.
In the past two days the embassy has been guarded by two armored personnel carriers and about 40 security guards armed with submachine guns. It is also protected by bomb-resistant walls.
The incident near the Marine residence was the first overtly anti-American act since the summer of 1982 when a bomb was defused at the embassy compound during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Meanwhile, for the second day in a row, demonstrators staged protests against the government's failure to condemn the U.S. raid on Libya.
Ahmed Mestiri, leader of the most important legal opposition party, the Democratic Socialist Movement, remained in custody after being detained during yesterday's unauthorized protest march.