The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

January 24, 2013

Westerners warned to leave Benghazi

LONDON —  Britain, Germany and the Netherlands urged their citizens Thursday to immediately leave the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in response to what was described as an imminent threat against Westerners.

The warnings come a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified to Congress about the deadly September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya. They also come as French troops battle al-Qaida linked militants in Mali, and follow the deaths of dozens of foreigners at the hands of Islamist extremists in Algeria — though it remained unclear if those two events were linked to the European nations' concerns about Libya.

The foreign ministries of the three countries issued statements variously describing the threat as specific and imminent but none gave details as to its exact nature. Germany and Britain urged their nationals still in Benghazi to leave "immediately" while Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Thijs van Son said that "staying in this area is not to be advised."

It was not immediately clear how many people could be affected; Britain's Foreign Office said likely "dozens" of its citizens were in the city, while Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Thijs van Son said there are four Dutch citizens registered as being in Benghazi and possibly two more. Several countries have for months advised against all travel to the city, especially after the U.S. consulate was attacked, and local residents said that many foreigners had already left in recent weeks.

Benghazi, a city of 1 million people, is a business hub where many major firms employ Westerners. It also was where the Libyan uprising against longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi began in 2011. Gadhafi was eventually toppled and killed after NATO backed the rebel movement, and the Arab country has since struggled with security. Al-Qaida-linked militants operate in the country alongside other Islamist groups.

Adel Mansouri, principal of the International School of Benghazi, said British and foreign nationals were warned two days ago about a possible threat to Westerners.

He said the school's teachers were given the option of leaving but decided to stay. The school has some 540 students. Most are Libyan with some 40 percent who hold dual nationality. Less than 5 percent are British while 10 to 15 students have U.S.-Libyan nationality, Mansouri said. Classes were not due to resume until Sunday because of a holiday Thursday.

"We told the British ambassador we are staying, and we'll be in touch," said Mansouri, himself a Libyan-British dual national. "We don't see a threat on the ground."

Saleh Gawdat, a Benghazi lawmaker, said French doctors who were working in Benghazi hospitals have left the city and that the French cultural center has closed out of concerns about potential retaliation over the French-led military intervention in nearby Mali, which began two weeks ago.

Violence in Benghazi has targeted both foreigners as well as Libyan officials in recent months — with assassinations, bombings and other attacks.

In addition to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate, an Italian diplomat's car was fired on by militants in Benghazi. The consul, Guido De Sanctis, wasn't injured in the attack earlier this month, but the incident prompted Italy to order the temporary suspension of its consular activities in the city and send its foreign staff home.

Islamist extremists are often blamed for targeting security officials who worked under Gadhafi, as a kind of revenge for torturing or imprisoning them in the past. Many city residents also blame Gadhafi loyalists who they say are trying to undermine Libya's new leaders by sowing violence.

Ibrahim Sahd, a Benghazi-based lawmaker and politician, said that the new government is putting together a plan to beef up security in the city and this "might have worried the Westerners of a backlash."

Noman Benotman, a former Libyan jihadist with links to al-Qaida who is now an analyst at London's Quilliam Foundation, said other groups inspired by the terror network have been gaining a following since Gadhafi's fall. There have been nearly a dozen attacks against Western targets in Libya recently, he said.

"It's the same al-Qaida ideology that is driving these militants," Benotman said.

He added, however, that the militants were unlikely to target oil or gas installations in Libya because they need support from the population. "Targeting these installations would turn Libyan workers and tribes against them," he said.

Oil companies working in other parts of Libya said they were aware of government warnings to citizens but there were no immediate plans for evacuations.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

    To help veterans leaving the military as it downsizes, the government on Wednesday started a one-stop job-shopping website for them to create resumes, connect with employers and become part of a database for companies to mine.

    April 23, 2014

  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer. It's an effort to deal with high costs and overcrowding in prisons, and also a matter of fairness, the government says.

    April 23, 2014

  • Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye'

    Thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," Roger Pontz has regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • Pro-Russian insurgents hold US journalist captive

    Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities."

    April 23, 2014

  • Beautiful Bulldogs.jpg Lucey is tops in Iowa's 'Beautiful Bulldog' event

    Lucey is a slobbering 18-month-old pooch whose human family dreams of making her a therapy dog.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • IndyCar puts Castroneves on probation through June

    IndyCar has put Helio Castroneves on probation through June because he violated the series' social media policy.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sherpas leave Everest; some expeditions nix climbs

    Sherpa guides packed up their tents and left Mount Everest's base camp Wednesday in an unprecedented walkout to honor 16 of their colleagues who were killed last week in the deadliest avalanche ever recorded on the mountain, climbers said.

    April 23, 2014

  • FBI investigates suspected serial child molester

    The FBI asked for the public's help Tuesday to identify at least 90 potential victims of a suspected child predator who worked at 10 American and other international schools abroad for more than four decades before committing suicide last month in Minnesota.

    April 22, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you plan to attend any of the local Little 500 Festival events in May?

Yes
No
What events?
     View Results