Britain has warned its citizens to leave Benghazi immediately, citing a “specific and imminent” threat” to Westerners in the eastern Libyan city.
“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,” Britain’s Foreign Office warned in a statement on Thursday.
The British Embassy in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has attempted to contact citizens whose information they had on record, the statement continued.
Although the UK declined to comment on the actual nature of the threat, the statement said there was new travel advice for Libya, despite an advisory already in effect against trips to Benghazi and most of the rest of the country since last September.
On September 11, 2012, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi went up in flames when Al Qaeda-linked terrorists stormed the complex, firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and other ordnance at the two buildings on the grounds.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats were brutally murdered by the terrorists in the attack, which evidence later revealed was planned. International and some domestic U.S. media reports claimed that Stevens died of smoke inhalation while trapped in one of the burning buildings. However, there have been questions raised as to the accuracy of the report, and it is still not clear under which circumstances, exactly how or when Stevens died.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday at a Congressional hearing on the attack, “As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility.”
But in response to pointed questions as to why the Obama administration chose to mask the reasons behind the attack with a claim they were caused by a mythical “protest” over an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S., Clinton shot back:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they’d go kill some Americans?
“What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”
Clinton told the panel she had never seen the repeated, increasingly desperate appeals for increased security sent by Stevens and other diplomats in Libya. “I didn’t see those requests,” she said. “They didn’t come to me.”
In addition to attacks on Westerners, Al Qaeda-linked terrorists are also attacking local security personnel in an ongoing attempt to secure their control of the region since longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi was toppled from power. One week ago there were two car bombings aimed at police vehicles, killing one officer and wounding a second when attackers threw a hand grenade at the patrol cars.
Attacks on properties belonging to the United Nations (UN), the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), Britain and Italy and their personnel have escalated, highlighting the chaos and danger in the area. Officials vowed to create a protective force for diplomats in the wake of gunfire aimed at the armored vehicle in which Italian Consul Guido De Sanctis was riding. De Sanctis was unharmed, but Italy cleared its personnel out of the area the next day.