The French embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli was severely damaged by a car bomb which injured two security guards.
The attack, the biggest of its kind in the city, was a further sign of the threat to France from heavily armed militias, many of them Islamist, that operate with impunity in the country.
No one claimed responsibility, but suspicion will fall on al-Qa'ida-linked elements operating inside Libya.
Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African branch, has threatened to attack French interests in protest at France's intervention in Mali.
The masive bomb exploded before work started yesterday morning, and staff had not arrived. Libyan investigators were trying to discover why the local security guards were not in their usual positions outside the building.
A neighbour told local reporters he saw a white car pull up and heard a shout of "Allahu akbar", but the bombing was not a suicide attack.
One French security guard was "gravely injured" and needed emergency surgery.
The other, also French, was said to have less severe injuries. (© Daily Telegraph, London)