French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has flown to Libya to inspect the damage and visit the wounded after a car bomb devastated France’s embassy in Tripoli.
“It was done to kill,” Fabius said. “A specialist told me 5 kg of explosives were used. It’s a miracle there weren’t personnel here, otherwise dozens would have died.”
Two French guards were injured by the blast in the Libyan capital.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility, but al Qaeda’s North Africa arm (AQIM) threatened retaliation for French intervention in Mali as recently as a week earlier.
France has been involved in intense fighting in its former colony since January, against Islamist insurgents who have profited from arms and fighters coming over the Sahara border from Libya.
Libya has been awash with weapons and roving armed bands ever since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled by the western backed rebels in 2011, though violence in Tripoli is rare.
The country’s prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who visited the scene with Fabius called it a “terrorist act” aimed at destabilising the country.
French President Francois Hollande has called on Libya to bring the bombers to justice, while a French counter-terrorism magistrate has been dispatched to aid the investigation.