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France pulls French and British out of Libya

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France pulls French and British out of Libya
Libyan security services and civilians gather across the street after a car bomb attack on the French embassy in Tripoli, Libya on April 23rd, 2013. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP
13:11 CEST+02:00
The French government announced on Wednesday that it had pulled around 50 French and British nationals out of Libya. Paris's decision to evacuate its nationals comes amid a rise in violence in the strife-torn North African country.

France has evacuated more than nearly 50 French and British citizens from Libya by ship, French authorities said on Wednesday amid growing lawlessness and unrest in the north African country.

A French diplomatic source said 40 French nationals, including the ambassador, were evacuated along with seven British nationals.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said the French and British nationals had been evacuated by ship but did not say how many.

The naval ship carrying them is bound for the southern French port of Toulon and the French embassy in Tripoli has been temporarily closed, the foreign ministry said.

Two weeks of fighting around Tripoli airport and between rival militias have killed scores of people and prompted several countries to urge their citizens to leave Libya.

'High terror threat'

The British ministry warned of a high threat of terrorism, noting that a number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in recent months.

It told those still in Libya, believed to number between 100 and 300, to avoid demonstrations or large crowds and to "keep a low profile".

The US announcement that it was evacuating its embassy came hours after Libya's interim government warned that the clashes between militia vying for control of the strategic airport were threatening to tear the country apart.

Czech, Maltese and Austrian foreign ministries have ongoing advice not to travel to Libya.

Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway have all also advised against travel, while Sweden has also told its citizens to leave the second city of Benghazi.

Spain's foreign ministry "very strongly" recommends that all Spaniards leave Libya "immediately" and Switzerland has warned citizens that it would find it difficult to rescue them should the situation deteriorate.

Belgium on July 16 told nationals to leave the country "immediately" and Turkish citizens were advised to leave on July 24, a day before its government suspended operations at the Tripoli embassy.

Austria, Italy and Portugal have all warned nationals against travelling around the country, with Austria saying that the risk of terrorist attack was particularly high in Benghazi.

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