U.S. pulls embassy staff from Libya after militia clashes in Tripoli
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 01:06
Secretary of State John Kerry said activities at the embassy have been ''suspended'' but the embassy has not been closed. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: The United States evacuated its embassy in Libya on Saturday (July 26), driving its staff under heavy military guard across the border to Tunisia because of escalating clashes between rival militias in Tripoli, the U.S. State Department said.
"We are suspending our current diplomatic activities at the embassy, not closing the embassy, but suspending the activities," Secretary of State John Kerry said while attending a Gaza conference in Paris.
Security in the Libyan capital has deteriorated following two weeks of fighting between brigades of former rebel fighters who have exchanged rocket, cannon and artillery fire in southern Tripoli near the embassy compound.
The United Nations has already pulled its staff out of the North African state, and Turkey has suspended its embassy operations because of the violence in Tripoli.
The State Department spokeswoman said staff would return to Tripoli once it was deemed safe. Until then, embassy operations would be conducted from elsewhere in the region and Washington.
The clashes for control of Tripoli International Airport are the latest eruption in a deepening rivalry among bands of ex-fighters who once battled side by side against Muammar Gaddafi, but have since turned against each other in the scramble for control.
Since the 2011 fall of Tripoli, fighters from the western town of Zintan and allies have controlled the area including the international airport, while rivals loyal to the port city of Misrata had entrenched themselves in other parts of the capital.
Heavily armed, they have sided with competing political forces vying to shape the future of Libya in the messy transition since the end of Gaddafi's four-decade rule.
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