Italy closes Libya embassy, repatriates nationals

Italy closes Libya embassy, repatriates nationals
Civilians and security personnel stand at the scene of an explosion outside the Algerian embassy in Libya's capital Tripoli January 17, 2015.

ROME - The Italian embassy in Libya, one of the last European missions in the troubled country, was closed on Sunday and its staff repatriated because of mounting insecurity, the foreign ministry said.

In total, about 100 Italians were being evacuated from the country on a boat escorted by the Italian navy, foreign ministry sources said.

Rome on Friday warned its nationals against travelling to Libya and urged those already there to leave as jihadists gain ground in the violence-plagued country.

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview published Sunday that Italy was ready to lead a coalition from Europe and north African states to battle the Islamist militants in Libya.

Powerful militias backing rival governments and parliaments have been battling for control of key cities and the country's oil riches since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising.

Taking advantage of the chaos, Islamic State militants have claimed a string of deadly attacks.

The latest targeted a luxury hotel in Tripoli on January 27, when nine people were killed, five of them foreigners.

 

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