Westerners Urged to Leave Benghazi on ‘Imminent’ Threat

The British, German and Dutch governments urged their citizens to leave the Libyan city of Benghazi citing a threat to Westerners.

“We are now aware of a specific and imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi and urge any British nationals who remain there” to leave immediately, the Foreign Office said in an e-mailed statement today.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said on its website that there is “an immediate concrete threat for Western nationals in Benghazi” and “urgently asks all German citizens to leave the city and the region.” Dutch citizens were also advised “not to stay in this area,” Thijs van Son, a Hague-based Netherlands Foreign Ministry spokesman, said by phone today.

The U.S. State Department said continues to advise against travel to Benghazi, although it is not aware of a specific threat against Americans there.

“Although there is no specific information pointing to specific, imminent threats against U.S. citizens, the potential for violence and kidnappings targeting Westerners in Benghazi is significant,” according to an “emergency message for U.S. citizens” posted today on the website of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.

The Jan. 16 al-Qaeda-linked attack on a gas plant partly run by BP Plc in southern Algeria resulted in the deaths of at least 38 foreign hostages. The 32 terrorists were all wearing Libyan uniforms, Algeria’s privately run Ennahar television said on its website last week, citing unidentified Algerian officials.

‘Fully Prepared’

Libya is reinforcing security at oil and gas installations following the attack.

“We must be fully prepared for any emergency,” Colonel Ahmed Al-Kabasha, a senior commander of the Defense Ministry’s petroleum facility guards, said in a statement carried by Libya’s state-run LANA news agency yesterday.

Most Western countries have advised citizens not to travel to Benghazi since September, when U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues were killed by gunmen during a Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in the city.

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