Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Sarkozy 'threat'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Budget challenge for India's new government

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Israeli strikes on Gaza as seen on social media

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

World Cup humiliation for host nation

Read more

DEBATE

Israel and the Palestinians: How to Break the Cycle of Violence?

Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Israel steps up airstrikes as diplomacy gets under way

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • Froome crashes out of Tour de France

    Read more

  • South Sudan independence heroes ‘have lost their way’

    Read more

  • 100 years on, the Tour de France returns to the Western Front

    Read more

  • Dozens of blindfolded bodies found south of Baghdad

    Read more

  • Both candidates say they won Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Brazil players should never wear 'sacred uniform' again, press says

    Read more

  • Exiled Syrian opposition elects new president

    Read more

  • Ukraine imposes new conditions on peace talks with pro-Russia rebels

    Read more

Africa

Westerners told to leave Benghazi over 'imminent' threat

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-01-24

The British, German and Dutch foreign ministries urged their citizens on Thursday to leave the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi following a "specific, imminent threat to Westerners" in the city.

Britain, Germany and the Netherlands urged their citizens Thursday to immediately leave the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in response to what was described as an imminent threat against Westerners.

The warnings come a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified to Congress about the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya. They also come as French troops battle al-Qaida linked militants in Mali, and follow the deaths of dozens of foreigners taken hostage by Islamist extremists in Algeria -- though it remained unclear if those two events were linked to the European nations’ concerns about Libya.

The foreign ministries of the three countries issued statements variously describing the threat as specific and imminent but none gave details. Germany and Britain urged their nationals still in Benghazi to leave “immediately” while Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Thijs van Son said that “staying in this area is not to be advised.”

It was not immediately clear how many people could be affected; Britain’s Foreign Office said likely “dozens” of its citizens were in the city, while van Son said there are four Dutch citizens registered as being in Benghazi and possibly two more. Several countries have for months advised against all travel to the city, especially after the U.S. mission was attacked, and local residents said that many foreigners had already left in recent weeks.

Benghazi, a city of 1 million people, is a business hub where many major firms employ Westerners. It also was where the Libyan uprising against longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi began in 2011. Gadhafi was eventually toppled and killed after NATO backed the rebel movement, and the Arab country has since struggled with security. Al-Qaida-linked militants operate in the country alongside other Islamist groups.

Adel Mansouri, principal of the International School of Benghazi, said U.K. and foreign nationals were warned in the last few days about a possible threat to Westerners.

He said the school’s teachers were given the option of leaving but decided to stay. The school has some 540 students. Most are Libyan with some 40 percent who hold dual nationality. Less than 5 percent are British while 10 to 15 students have U.S.-Libyan nationality, Mansouri said. Classes were not due to resume until Sunday because of a holiday Thursday.

“We told the British ambassador we are staying, and we’ll be in touch,” said Mansouri, himself a Libyan-British dual national. “We don’t see a threat on the ground.”

Saleh Gawdat, a Benghazi lawmaker, said French doctors who were working in Benghazi hospitals have left the city and that the French cultural center has closed out of concerns about potential retaliation over the French-led military intervention in nearby Mali, which began two weeks ago.

Violence in Benghazi has targeted both foreigners as well as Libyan officials in recent months -- with assassinations, bombings and other attacks.

In addition to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission, an Italian diplomat’s car was fired on by militants in Benghazi. The consul, Guido De Sanctis, wasn’t injured in the attack earlier this month, but the incident prompted Italy to order the temporary suspension of its consular activities in the city and send its foreign staff home.

Islamist extremists are often blamed for targeting security officials who worked under Gadhafi, as a kind of revenge for torturing or imprisoning them in the past. Many city residents also blame Gadhafi loyalists who they say are trying to undermine Libya’s new leaders by sowing violence.

Ibrahim Sahd, a Benghazi-based lawmaker and politician, said that the new government is putting together a plan to beef up security in the city and this “might have worried the Westerners of a backlash.”

Noman Benotman, a former Libyan jihadist with links to al-Qaida who is now an analyst at London’s Quilliam Foundation, said other groups inspired by the terror network have been gaining a following since Gadhafi’s fall. There have been nearly a dozen attacks against Western targets in Libya recently, he said.

“It’s the same al-Qaida ideology that is driving these militants,” Benotman said.

He added, however, that the militants were unlikely to target oil or gas installations in Libya because they need support from the population. “Targeting these installations would turn Libyan workers and tribes against them,” he said.

Oil companies working in other parts of Libya said they were aware of government warnings to citizens but there were no immediate plans for evacuations.

(AP)

 

Date created : 2013-01-24

  • USA

    Clinton faces Senate over Benghazi consulate attack

    Read more

  • USA

    Senior US official quits over scathing Benghazi report

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Libya closes borders amid mounting unrest

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)