US closes embassy in Libya, evacuates staff
The United States closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated the staffers to neighbouring Tunisia amid security concerns in the restive north African country, the State Department said Saturday.
"Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the US Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya," Xinhua quoted spokeswoman Marie Harf as saying.
US personnel at the Tripoli embassy left Tripoli around dawn and travelled by road to neighbouring Tunisia under military escort, Harf said.
All of the staff has been reported safe in Tunisia.
"Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly," Harf added.
She said US diplomats will continue to work on Libya issues in Tunis, Washington, or elsewhere in North Africa.
The Obama administration has been particularly sensitive about the security of its diplomatic mission in Libya since its ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Libya's second city Benghazi Sept. 11, 2012.
In the last few days, fighting among rival militias for control of the airport in Tripoli has left at least 50 people dead, extensive damage to airport facilities and planes, and the suspension of all flights to and from the airport.
The UN Security Council last week condemned recent violence in Libya, calling on all sides to engage in political dialogue and refrain from violence which threatens stability.
(Posted on 26-07-2014)