Foreign Office advises Britons to leave Benghazi in Libya over 'specific' threat

Britons have been advised to leave Benghazi in Libya
Britons have been advised to leave Benghazi in Libya Photo: Bing

The Foreign Office today urged British nationals to leave Benghazi in Libya "in response to a specific, imminent threat to westerners." Germany and the Netherlands have also warned their citizens to do the same.

We are now aware of a specific and imminent threat to westerners in Benghazi, and urge any British nationals who remain there against our advice to leave immediately.

We have updated our travel advice to reflect this. The British Embassy in Tripoli has been in contact with British nationals for whom we have contact details to alert them to the advice.

– Foreign Office statement

ITV News Special Correspondent Rageh Omaar reports:

Some airline cancelled flights in to the city as the Libyan authorities reacted angrily to the news.

The deputy leader of the Libyan congress, Jumma Atigahas, has said he was surprised at hearing of the Foreign Office's warning of an immediate threat to foreigners in Benghazi.

We were surprised at this announcement, but let me say in principle any country has the right to warn their citizens if they felt there was any danger, however slight that danger is.

In regards to Benghazi, everyone knows that Benghazi is targeted because of its high symbolic significance in leading the revolution and there have been a number of incidents there.

But I affirm that Benghazi now has a security plan to protect its citizens and foreigners.

I want to say that terrorism has no religion or country.

Terrorism can strike anywhere in the world, even in countries like Britain who aren't immune to terrorism.

But to have this announcement that hints at something that doesn't really exist on the ground is not justified enough in our opinion.

– Jumma Atigahas, deputy leader of the Libyan congress

While the US has yet to issue any similar advice the Defence Secretary has said that the area is dangerous.

US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta speaking today
US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta speaking today

It's no mystery that it's a dangerous situation there and everybody in that area I think is very concerned that they simply can't provide the security necessary to protect people in those places. I think that's why these countries have made the decision that they've made.

– Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defence