Last updated: 10 May, 2013

Britain withdraws some embassy staff from Libya

Britain is temporarily pulling out some staff from its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli due to security concerns over recent political unrest, the Foreign Office said on Friday.

Tensions have risen in Libya since ex-rebels besieged two ministries at the end of last month in a row over a law that would ban officials who served under slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi from holding office.

“Given the security implications of the ongoing political uncertainty, the British embassy is temporarily withdrawing a small number of staff, mainly those who work in support of government ministries which have been affected by recent developments,” a spokesman said.

“The embassy is open as usual, including for consular and visa services.”

British ambassador to Libya Michael Aron tweeted that “despite rumours the British embassy in Tripoli is open for business.”

But the British Council cultural agency said separately that it was closing its Libya office until next week for the same reason.

“Due to the uncertainty of the situation in Tripoli we will be closing to the public until and including Thursday 16 May 2013,” it said in a statement on its Facebook page.

It said it would make up any of the English language classes that students have missed.

Gunmen surrounded the Libyan foreign ministry on April 28 and the justice ministry two days later to demand the passing of a law excluding collaborators of Kadhafi from office.

There has also been violence in Libya’s second city Benghazi, the cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled Kadhafi, with bomb attacks on Friday damaging two police stations although there were no casualties.

Authorities blame radical Islamists for the violence in Benghazi, including a deadly attack in September against the US consulate in the city that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Britain, France and the United States issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling on “all Libyans to refrain from armed protest and violence during this difficult time in the democratic transition”.

Britain and France led the creation of a NATO no-fly zone in Libya in 2011 when the rebellion against Kadhafi began.