France warns citizens to leave Benghazi

Nation join UK, Germany and Netherlands in warning citizens of "imminent threat" in Libyan city due to Mali conflict.

    France warns citizens to leave Benghazi
    In September, a US ambassador was killed during a protest in the eastern city [Reuters]

    France and Australia have become the latest nation to warn its citizens against staying in the Libyan city of Benghazi in response to a "specific, imminent threat to Westerners", linked to French action in Mali.

    Friday's announcement comes after similar warnings from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.

    A statement from Australia's department of foreign affairs said: "We are aware of a specific, imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi.

    "All Australians in Benghazi should leave immediately ... There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Libya following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013."

    The decision comes a day after a British warning caused Libya to announce there was "no new intelligence" to justify such concerns in the eastern city.

    "We are now aware of a specific and imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi, and urge any British nationals who remain there against our advice to leave immediately," the UK's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

    The alert from London came hours after David Cameron, the UK prime minister, said that last week's deadly attack on a gas complex in Algeria was only one part of what would be a "long struggle against murderous terrorists"
    around the world.

    Later on Thursday, both Germany and the Netherlands also warned their citizens to leave the city.

    Abdullah Massoud, Libya's deputy interior minister, expressed "astonishment" at the warnings, and said Tripoli would be demanding an explanation.

    Benghazi was the centre of the uprising that toppled Muammer Gaddafi in 2011. In September last year, the US ambassador to Libya was killed in the port city.

    SOURCE: AFP


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