Americans told to evacuate Libya as U.S. prepares for embassy evacuation

The U.S. government is urging all Americans in Libya to "depart immediately" due to the "unpredictable and unstable" security situation and continuing threat to Americans.
By JC Finley  |  May 28, 2014 at 11:03 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of State issued a new travel warning Tuesday, advising "U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately."

"The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. ...

"In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. 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.

"U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately."

The new travel warning comes more than a week after renewed violence broke out in the capital city of Tripoli in what has been described as the worst violence since the 2011 revolution that deposed dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

U.S. officials continue to monitor the situation in Libya as they weigh whether to issue an ordered departure for embassy personnel. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday "we continue to review the situation and address Embassy security needs, but I don't have any announcements to make."

In order to prepare for the possibility of an embassy evacuation, the U.S. has pre-positioned military assets. A U.S. warship has been deployed to the region "to protect U.S. personnel and facilities in U.S. installations in North Africa," Psaki acknowledged. In addition, "a special purpose Marine Air-Guard task force crisis response" group based at a naval air station in Sicily is prepared to respond "in the event these resources are needed in the future."

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Team was stood up after the 2012 attack on U.S. Consulate Benghazi.

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