Evacuated French, British nationals arrive in Toulon

Evacuated French, British nationals arrive in Toulon
French ambassador to Libya Antoine Sivan (2ndL) speaks with officials at the naval base in Toulon, southeastern France, on August 1, 2014 after leaving the naval base of Tripoli following the evacuation from Libya of French and British citizens due to growing lawlessness and unrest.

TOULON, France - Forty-seven French and British nationals evacuated on a French naval ship from Libya arrived early Friday in the southern port of Toulon.

The group consisting of 40 French citizens, including the French ambassador, and seven Britons were received by the top maritime official in the region, an AFP journalist said.

The evacuees on the ship included 14 teenagers and children.

French ambassador Antoine Sivan said the operation "passed off smoothly with perfect timing" and added that some 40 bi-nationals holding French and other passports had chosen to stay on.

The group was extracted from Tripoli on Tuesday night by sea because of protracted clashes between rival militias for the control of the city's airport.

"The situation has been becoming worse over the last few months with petrol shortages, kidnappings and clashes between rival groups," said Mohamed Torchani, a law professor who left Libya with his wife and three young children.

"Whenever we left the house, we were never sure if we could return safe and sound," he said. "Every one had weapons and the slightest verbal spat could end badly." France on Monday had advised its nationals - of whom fewer than 100 remained in Libya - to leave the country immediately and contact the embassy for evacuation.

However several nationals who also have Libyan or other citizenship opted to stay.

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