Turkey, Saudi Arabia shut Libya embassies over security fears

Published Monday, May 19, 2014

Updated 5:50 pm: Turkey temporarily closed its consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Monday, a spokesman said, because of a threat of an attack after scores of people were killed in clashes between a renegade general and Islamist militias.

Separately, Saudi Arabia closed its embassy and consulate in the capital Tripoli, in western Libya, and withdrew all of its diplomatic staff on Monday due to security concerns, the ambassador said.

The flag that normally flies over the consul building in Benghazi had been taken down according to a Reuters witness, but Turkish officials said staff had not been evacuated.

The consulate was closed after a specific threat, Tanju Bilgic, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said, without giving further details.

"The consulate has been closed for today as a security measure. Whether it will remain closed tomorrow or not will be decided in light of the security situation," he said.

Turkey is one of the last countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Benghazi, where the US ambassador was killed during an attack by Islamist militants on the American diplomatic mission in the port city in 2012.

Meanwhile the Saudi ambassador said their embassy and consulate in the Libyan capital were shut and its diplomatic staff withdrawn due to security concerns.

"All the diplomatic staff has left the Libyan capital aboard a private plane due to the security situation through which Libya is passing," ambassador Mohammed Mahmoud al-Ali said in a statement reported on the state news agency SPA.

The closure of the diplomatic missions come only three days after Algeria shut its embassy in Libya after receiving a threat.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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