Turkey urges citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Libya

Turkey urges citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Libya
# 16 July 2014 01:51 (UTC +04:00)

Ankara said in a Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday that citizens traveling to Libya should avoid non-essential travels to the north African nation as armed conflicts intensified in Tripoli and that they have repercussions elsewhere.

Kidnappings have become commonplace in the oil producer, with foreign officials often the targets.

The weak interim government has been unable to disarm former rebels and militants who fought to depose leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and who have formed increasingly powerful and violent militias.

Local officials, policemen and army personnel are also targeted and there have been some random acts of violence against ordinary foreigners.

At least 15 people have been killed in the capital and the eastern city of Benghazi since Sunday. Fighting between rival militias at the capital's airport damaged the control tower and wrecked 11 civilian planes parked on the tarmac. The main terminal building has been turned into a field hospital.

In Benghazi, irregular forces loyal to renegade former general Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally, bombarded Islamist militia bases as part of his self-declared campaign to oust militants. Special forces clashed with militia fighters in the city.

The Tripoli airport battle has prompted the United Nations to evacuate its staff from the country, where a new government is struggling to impose order over streets prowled by fighters who rose up against Gaddafi and never disarmed.

Ankara said airports in Tripoli and Misurata are closed and that citizens could leave the country by riding to Tunisia.