Westerners urged to quit Libyan city
on 25/01/2013 10:24:46
The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Irish people against all travel to Benghazi and has urged any Irish citizens who are there to leave immediately after it became aware of the "specific and imminent threat", just days after a deadly hostage crisis in the neighbouring country of Algeria.
The UK, Germany, Canada and Netherlands citizens have also been warned by their governments to immediately leave the eastern Libyan city.
European officials, who did not want to be named, told The Associated Press that schools, businesses and offices of non-governmental organisations were among the potential targets.
Adel Mansouri, principal of the International School of Benghazi, said foreign citizens were warned in the last few days about a possible threat to Westerners.
He added that the school's teachers were given the option of leaving but decided to stay.
The school has some 540 students, most of which are Libyan with 40 holding dual nationality and less than 5% are British.
He said: "We told the British ambassador we are staying, and we'll be in touch.
"We don't see a threat on the ground."
The dangers in the wake of Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow are said to include "indiscriminate" terrorist attacks against foreign travellers and kidnapping.
The French military action in Mali, which has received British logistical support, has also raised the threat of retaliatory strikes on westerners.
Benghazi was the stronghold of the Western-backed revolt that eventually ended Gaddafi's hold on power in Libya.
German nationals have also been advised to leave Benghazi immediately while the Dutch government has warned its nationals that "staying in this area is not to be advised".
Four Dutch citizens are registered as being in Benghazi but there could be two more, according to Dutch foreign ministry spokesman Thijs van Son.