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Rocket attack in Libyan capital near tower housing embassies

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A rocket-propelled grenade struck a residential building near a tower housing several foreign embassies and a major hotel in the Libyan capital on Tuesday, witnesses and a security source said.

There were no reported injuries in the incident in which a balcony of a residential block was charred and holed, a Reuters reporter on the scene said. A security source said the rocket was launched from car which burst into flames.

There has been a spate of bombings in recent months in Libya - in April the French embassy in Tripoli was bombed, while in the volatile eastern city of Benghazi, four Americans - including the ambassador - were killed on September 11 last year.

The explosion occurred in the car park of a residential compound next to Tripoli Towers, where the British and Canadian embassies as well as several foreign airlines and other companies are based.

It was also close to a large hotel used by foreign businessmen as well as government officials, the Corinthia.

The security source did not rule out that the rocket may have been targeted at the hotel and misfired, but this could not immediately be verified.

"I heard an explosion and looked outside and saw a car in flames," a source working in Tripoli Towers told Reuters.

Police cordoned off the area around the burnt-out car.

The blast occurred in mid-afternoon, when many offices have already emptied during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Armed violence and lawlessness caused in part by militia groups who often do as they please has hobbled governance in wide areas of the oil-producing North African state following the 2011 war that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

In Benghazi, two people were injured when a police station was bombed earlier on Tuesday.

A security official said an improvised explosive device was planted inside the gate of the police station and three people were later arrested. The police station has been targeted in similar attacks previously, the official said.

The east of Libya, and especially the city of Benghazi, the cradle of the anti-Gaddafi uprising, has became a particular focus of violence, mainly against security forces. Residents say some of the assaults may be revenge attacks by former prisoners.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; additional reporting by Ghaith Shennib in Tripoli and Feras Bosalum in Benghazi; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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