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US evacuates embassy in Libya
July 26, 2014, 4:45 pm

Smoke rises from areas near the airport where clashes between militias have intensified in recent weeks [Xinhua]

Smoke rises from areas near the airport where clashes between militias have intensified in recent weeks [Xinhua]

The United States has evacuated its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, citing the continuing lack of security.

Embassy staff were transported to Tunisia in a convoy under US military escort on Friday and Saturday.

“Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the US Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Fighting between rival factions vying for power in Tripoli has continued unabated since shelling in the neighborhoods surrounding the airport killed at least seven people and led to its closure on July 14.

The UN withdrew its staff two weeks ago saying they could not operate while the airport remained closed.

Libya has seen a resurgence of violence in recent months, partially due to lack of security along volatile borders and a failure of the government to rein in militia who fought against the former Qaddafi government.

Distrust between some of the southern and eastern tribes in addition to decades-long rivalries have also exacerbated the situation.

The deteriorating situation prompted a warning from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that civilian populations are coming under attack

“Recent reports of alleged attacks carried out against the civilian population and civilian objects in Tripoli and Benghazi are a cause for great concern. Such deplorable acts of violence must immediately cease,” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

“We will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who commit crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction in Libya irrespective of their official status or affiliation,” she added.

Meanwhile, the US State Department issued a report this week underscoring the failure of Libya’s military and police to secure the country more than two years since the former government was overthrown and its leader Muammar Qaddafi killed.

“The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including anti-aircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation,” the report said.

Libya’s government has urged militias pull back from the lines of confrontation, but without a national army or effective security force, its warnings have fallen on deaf ears.

The government has often had to rely on militias to police the country’s borders, but with loyalties changing repeatedly this has proven a security failure.

Source: Agencies

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