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Foreign workers, diplomats flee Libyan fighting

Ships are arriving in Tripoli to bring foreigners home.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   Aug. 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM   |   Comments

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TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Thousands of foreign workers and diplomatic staff in Libya have been ordered home -- the result of fighting in the capital of Tripoli and other cities.

Combat between depleted government forces and Islamist militant gangs, some of which the government contracted for security duty, have killed about 200 people in the past two weeks.

As a result, embassies are closing and foreign workers are being sent home. Nations are sending military vessels to Libya to bring their citizens home, since Tripoli's airport is closed following a July 13 attack by an alliance of Islamist organizations.

Greece sent a naval frigate and a passenger ferry boat to remove about 200 Greeks, Chinese and Cypriots, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced, and two French navy frigates took French and British citizens from Tripoli Wednesday.

The U.S. State Dept. and Defense Dept. said staffers of the U.S. embassy were evacuated last week and taken by overland convoy to neighboring Tunisia, escorted by U.S. fighter planes and surveillance aircraft.

The United Nations has also suspended operations in Libya. Britain, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Russia, Egypt and others have all temporarily closed their embassies and diplomatic missions.

Alberto del Rosario, the Philippines' Foreign Secretary, announced he would travel to Tunisia to help the evacuation of 13,000 Filipino workers and embassy staff, after a Philippine national was beheaded in Benghazi, Libya, last week and a Philippine nurse was abducted and raped Wednesday.

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