Clashes outside Libyan foreign ministry over ‘Political Isolation Law’

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Clashes have been reported Friday evening outside the Libyan foreign ministry between gunmen and protesters denouncing a law recently passed by the country's ruling Islamists, sources told Al Arabiya.

Sources speaking to the news channel said gunmen were reportedly dressed in military uniforms and had kidnapped a number of protesters.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Libyan activists protested in three major cities slamming the ‘Political Isolation Law,’ which was passed by the Libyan congress earlier this week.

Protesters in Tripoli, Benghazi, Bayda and Tobrouk accused the Islamists who are ruling the country of trying to seize more power by passing a law that prevents any official who previously worked during Moamer Qaddafi’s era from working in the new government, Al Arabiya reported.

In the same vain, Britain’s Foreign Office said on Friday that it is withdrawing some staff from its embassy in the Libyan capital in light of recent political unrest, according to AFP.

Over the past month, armed groups have besieged government buildings in Tripoli blocking access to ministries.

“Given the security implications of the ongoing political uncertainty, the British embassy is temporarily withdrawing a small number of staff, mainly those who work in support of government ministries which have been affected by recent developments,” a Foreign Office spokesman said as quoted by AFP.

“The embassy is open as usual, including for consular and visa services.”

But the British Council cultural agency said it was closing its Libyan office until next week for the same reason, AFP said.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning, saying it “strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and all travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid and southern Libya, including border areas and the regions of Sabha and Kufra,” as quoted by AFP.

U.S. authorities also said they were reducing embassy staffing in Tripoli due to deteriorating security situation, AFP said.

Britain, France and the United States issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling on “all Libyans to refrain from armed protest and violence during this difficult time in the democratic transition,” according to AFP.

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