The Russian woman who allegedly machine-gunned a Libyan air force officer in Tripoli, sparking a retaliatory attack on the Russian embassy, has been named as Yekaterina Ustyuzhaninova, a 24-year-old Siberian powerlifter.
The Russian foreign ministry confirmed Ustyuzhaninova has been arrested by Libyan authorities in connection with the murder of air force engineering official Mohamed Alsusi, who was slayed in his Tripoli house.
The motives behind the murder remain unclear. Conflicting media reports claim Ustyuzhaninova and Alsusi were married, while others say she killed him because he had supported the uprising that toppled the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Ustyuzhaninova studied at Novosibirsk's state university, in Siberia, and was a member of the regional branch of the International Powerlifting Association (IPA).
"[She] is my ex-athlete," IPA Novosibirsk president Vitaly Dubrovin, told RIA Novosti.
Dubrovin said Ustyuzhaninova did bench press and powerlifting but interrupted her training in Novosibirsk about three years ago. He described her as a good and sociable girl.
According to Tripoli police, earlier this week Ustyuzhaninova entered Alsusi's house and opened fire killing him. She then shot and stabbed the victim's mother and used the man's blood to write "Death to Rats" in English on a wall of the house.
Local media said she was apprehended by police trying to escape from the scene.
Following the murder, about 10 gunmen stormed the Russian embassy in the Libyan capital.
The attackers climbed the external wall and broke down a metal gate, started shooting in the air, set fire to an embassy car and tore down a Russian flag. Security guards intervened killing one and wounding four.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said none of its staff was injured. All diplomats and their families have been evacuated and the Ministry has issued a warning to its citizens against visiting the country.
Some Russian and Libyan media reports suggested the blood message allegedly left on the wall by Ustyuzhaninova was a reference to Gaddafi opponents.
Russia Today (RT) claimed that Ustyuzhaninova wrote under the alias of 'Katya Cyaegha' on several pro-Gaddafi Russian language blogs.
A woman looking like Ustyuzhaninova is depicted holding a green flag - the national colour of Gaddafi's Lybia - in a number of photos circulating on such blogs.
In 2011 Ustyuzhaninova entered Libya crossing the Tunisian border after having raised money online to launch a solo campaign "to help Gaddafi or die for him", RT reported.
Tripoli authorities said she entered Libya as a journalist.
Hashim Bishar, head of Tripoli's Supreme Security Committee said Ustyuzhaninova has been interrogated for six hours and is now in the custody of the attorney general's office.