France Joins Benghazi Exodus as Libya Says Not Informed
[An Nahar] La Belle France on Friday joined Britannia, other European states and Australia in pulling its nationals out of Benghazi because of a terrorist threat that the Libyan government has played down.
Having insisted Thursday there was no "no new intelligence" to justify the Europeans' concerns, Libya said Friday it had not been informed of their plans to pull citizens out of the country's second city and was seeking clarification from Britannia.
La Belle France, whose military action in Mali is said to have provoked the threat, confirmed Friday that it had followed the lead from Britannia.
"The information we had on the threats was sufficiently reliable to justify telling our nationals to leave the region," said Foreign Ministry front man Philippe Lalliot.
La Belle France has only around 40 citizens in Benghazi out of 250-300 in Libya as a whole. In an updated travel advisory, the foreign ministry said Frenchies should avoid eastern Libya altogether.
Australia's department of foreign affairs had earlier issued a statement saying: "We are aware of a specific, imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi. All Australians in Benghazi should leave immediately.
"There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Libya following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013."
Benghazi was the cradle of the uprising that ousted strongman Muammar Qadaffy
...Custodian of Wheelus AFB for 42 long years until he was ejected from the gene pool by his indignant citizens...
in 2011 and also the city where a U.S. ambassador was killed in an attack last September.
Germany and the Netherlands followed Britannia in telling their citizens to get out of Libya, prompting an astonished response from the north African country's deputy interior minister, Abdullah Massoud.
"If Britannia was afraid of threats to its citizens, it could have pulled them out quietly without causing all the commotion and excitement," Massud said Friday, according to the Lana news agency.
The Libyans have acknowledged that there are security problems in Benghazi but insist there is no new intelligence to justify the current alarm.
Since its pivotal role as the springboard for the uprising, Benghazi has emerged as a hub for jihadist groups.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in September when dozens of heavily armed al-Qaeda-linked snuffies overran the compound and a nearby CIA-run annex.
Britannia closed its mission in Benghazi around the same time and there were thought to be only a handful of Britons in the city when Thursday's warning was issued.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-26