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Libya Violence Forces Countries to Evacuate Workers, Nationals

  • VOA News

Fighters from the Benghazi Shura Council, which includes former rebels and militants from al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Sharia, gesture on top of a tank next to the camp of the special forces in Benghazi, Libya, July 30, 2014.

Fighters from the Benghazi Shura Council, which includes former rebels and militants from al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Sharia, gesture on top of a tank next to the camp of the special forces in Benghazi, Libya, July 30, 2014.

Continued fighting between rival militia factions in Libya has prompted several countries to evacuate workers and urge nationals to leave the country.

On Wednesday, China evacuated several hundred workers from Libya and is taking them by ship to Malta, the head of the Malta Civil Service, Mario Cutajar, said.

Cutajar said the Maltese government was arranging temporary accommodations 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 center to cater for the fallout from the unrest in Libya.

Also, China has urged all its nationals to leave Libya.

About 1,000 Chinese citizens have left since May, but about 1,100 remain, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing Chinese Embassy official Yan Jianqun.

Many Chinese have also driven out to Tunisia, Yan said.

French evacuates nationals

Earlier on Wednesday, French nationals were evacuated from Tripoli, as well, amid concerns over increased violence in the country.

Video released by the French government showed people getting into boats before boarding French frigate the Montcalm at sea.

The evacuation came after heavy gunfire between warring militias prevented firefighters from battling a massive inferno in Libya's capital on Tuesday.

The fighting has taken place despite calls for a cease-fire to end the worst violence in the capital since the country's 2011 civil war.

Meanwhile, the Philippines renewed calls for thousands of its nationals to leave Libya on Thursday after a Filipina nurse was abducted and gang-raped on Wednesday, and a Filipino construction worker was beheaded earlier in July.

The foreign department said all 13,000 Filipinos there were to be repatriated as clashes between rival militias threaten to tear the country apart three years after Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled.

The department said a consular team has stayed behind in Tripoli despite the precarious security situation to coordinate the evacuation of Filipinos by land to Tunisia and Egypt where they will eventually be flown home.

It has also barred its nationals from traveling to Libya.

On Wednesday, the Philippines also said it had chartered a ship to take up to 1,000 Filipinos to Malta.

Spain, U.S.

On Tuesday, a Spanish military plane had evacuated 60 people from Libya, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Monday, the United States said its ambassador to Libya, who was evacuated on Saturday, would be based temporarily in Malta.

The island played a pivotal role in the evacuation of thousands of workers during the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, when countries including China, the Philippines and India chartered ships to transport workers there before they returned to their home countries.

A British warship also used Malta as a base for crossings to Libya to evacuate Europeans.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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