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Terrorism

Britain, Germany tell nationals to leave Benghazi

The Netherlands and Australia have joined Germany and Britain in advising citizens to leave the Benghazi because of an unspecified terror threat. Libya has denied that foreigners are at increased risk.

A statement issued by the German Foreign Office on Thursday echoed an earlier warning from the British government.

"The Federal Government has information about an immediate, concrete threat to Western citizens in Benghazi," the statement said. It also called on "all German citizens to leave the city and the region of Benghazi immediately."

The statement did not provide any further details, but in light of last week's deadly attack on a gas extraction plant in Algeria, Berlin had already warned German citizens of an increased risk of violence or kidnappings in North Africa.

The Dutch government has also warned its citizens to avoid Benghazi, and Air Malta announced that it had cancelled Thursday's scheduled flights to the eastern Libyan city.

Britain was the first country to warn its nationals to leave Benghazi, but its statement also declined to provide details.

"We cannot comment further on the nature of the threat at this time," the statement said.

Libya denies increased risk

Libya's government, though, denied that there was an increased risk to Westerners in the region.

“We acknowledge that there are security problems in Benghazi and that there have been for several months, but there is no new intelligence that could justify this reaction from London," the Deputy Interior Minister Abdullah Massoud told the AFP news agency.

"On the contrary," he added. "We are now in the process of establishing our authority in the east and in all of Libya, and the security forces are organizing themselves little by little and are more and more visible on the ground."

Concerns about security in the city, which was the cradle of the uprising against former strongman Moammar Gadhafi, have been heightened since an attack on the US embassy last September, which killed the US ambassador and three others.

Italy pulled out staff and temporarily closed its consulate in Benghazi earlier this month after its consul was shot at while traveling in a car.

pfd/dr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)