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U.S. issues fresh Libya travel warning

The warning comes amid worsening unrest in Libya, where battling militias have plunged the country into chaos

Published: Updated:

The U.S. State Department Tuesday recommended that Americans in Libya “depart immediately,” in its latest travel warning.

The warning comes amid worsening unrest in Libya, where battling militias have plunged the country into chaos.

“Due to security concerns, the Department of State has limited staffing at Embassy Tripoli and is only able to offer very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Libya,” the travel warning said.

“Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death,” it added.

“U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately,” it said.

Earlier on Tuesday a U.S. defense official said the country was deploying an amphibious assault vessel carrying 1,000 marines near the Libyan coast in case the U.S. embassy must be evacuated.

The USS Bataan was to be in the area “in a matter of days,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The move was described as “precautionary” in case conditions in Libya, where militia battles have plunged the country into anarchy, worsen and require the embassy’s evacuation.

The State Department said last week that the embassy in Tripoli was operating normally despite an offensive launched against Islamist militias by a dissident general, Khalifa Haftar.

The leader of Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia militant group in Benghazi, meanwhile, warned against U.S. interference in the country’s crisis.
Mohamed Zahawi, head of the Benghazi brigade of Ansar al-Sharia, accused the U.S. government of backing renegade former general Haftar, who has begun a self-declared campaign to purge Libya of Islamist militants.

“We remind America, if they intervene, of their defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, because they would face in Libya something much worse,” he said in a statement. “It was America who urged Haftar to turn the country towards war and bloodshed.”

(With AFP and Reuters)