World Bulletin / News Desk
Greece is sending a frigate and two other vessels to Libya to evacuate workers at its embassy in Tripoli as well as a few hundred Chinese and European nationals, government officials said on Thursday.
The Greek frigate Salamis, which can carry up to 100 evacuees, is expected to arrive in Libya on Thursday evening, a defence ministry official said. A second naval vessel, Prometheus, and a passenger ferry are expected to help evacuate workers from countries including Britain and Cyprus, officials said.
Greek passenger ships evacuated more than 10,000 foreigners, mainly Chinese workers, from Libya when fighting flared in 2011.
China has evacuated several hundred workers from Libya and is taking them by ship to Malta, the head of the Malta Civil Service, Mario Cutajar, said on Wednesday.
He said the Maltese government was arranging temporary accommodation for the workers and was preparing for the eventuality of a bigger evacuation from the North African country if the unrest there continues to grow.
Cutajar is heading a crisis centre to cater for the fallout of the situation in Libya.
Spain ALSO said on Thursday it was pulling its ambassador and embassy staff out of Libya.
On Tuesday, 29 Spanish residents and their families were evacuated from Libya.
"All the information we have is that the situation in Libya will get much worse very quickly," Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo told parliament.
One person will remain in the embassy to oversee archives while Spanish consulate business will be taken on by Italy and Malta, which have kept their own embassies open, Margallo said.
France closed its embassy on Wednesday and evacuated 30 French nationals from Tripoli, a few days after the U.S. embassy evacuated its staff across the Tunisian border under heavy military escort.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Philippines also said it had chartered a ship to take up to 1,000 Filipinos to Malta. Cutajar said 150 foreign workers, mostly Filipinos, had arrived in Malta on Tuesday on flights from Mitiga airport near Tripoli.
On Monday the United States said its ambassador to Libya, who was evacuated on Saturday, will be temporarily based in Malta.
The past two weeks of fighting between rival militias in Libya have been the worst since the civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, prompting Western governments to follow the United States and the United Nations in pulling their diplomats out of the North African country.
Heavy shelling resumed on Thursday in southern Tripoli where rival militia brigades were battling for control of the capital's main airport in some of the worst clashes since the 2011 revolt which ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
Around 200 people have been killed since the clashes erupted two weeks ago in the capital and also in the eastern city of Benghazi, where a coalition of fighters and former rebels have overrun a major army base in the city.
Thuds of artillery and anti-aircraft cannons echoed across Tripoli from early Thursday morning, a day after a temporary ceasefire agreed by factions to allow firefighters to put out a huge blaze at a fuel depot hit by a rocket.
Most of the fighting is limited to southern Tripoli where warring factions have exchanged Grad rockets, artillery shells and cannon fire between the airport controlled by Zintan brigade fighters and enclaves of their Misrata brigade rivals.
In the eastern city of Benghazi, an alliance of fighters and former rebels has also overrun a special forces base in the city, forcing the army into a retreat, local residents and army officials said.
Residents said there was little sign of the army or police on the ground in Benghazi on Thursday, two days after fighters from Ansar al-Sharia and the coalition of former rebels the Benghazi Shura Council overtook a main special forces base.Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Temmuz 2014, 16:16