Gulf of Sidra, Cyrenaica and Benghazi
Security threats towards foreign nationals, in Benghazi in particular, were highlighted as a result of the UK Governments revised warnings that its citizens should evacuate Benghazi immediately. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) made the statements 24 January, over concerns of “a specific and imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi”. The ministry has not revised advice for travel to Tripoli although it was reported on 28 January, that the embassy in Tripoli was aware of a “potential threat against it”.
The UK warning appears to have caused a domino affect with Germany and Holland following suit. Air Malta also temporarily cancelled flights to Benghazi. The British school in Benghazi had also closed from 23 January. Unconfirmed reports on 25 January also claimed that western employees at the Arabian Gulf Company working in the city had been transferred to Tripoli.
Two guards at the Sirte check-point were seriously wounded, 24 January after a group of 14 men opened fire on them. ‘Qadahfi supporters’ from the Qasr Ben Gahir brigade were blamed for the attack. The Libya Herald reported the assassination on 24 January of a relative of an early defector from the Qadhafi regime during the revolution. The attack took place in the city’s Al Laithi district. The week has also witnessed the continued downward spiral of security in Benghazi. Further security breaches of government buildings resulted in the temporary closure of the Al-Jalah hospital in Benghazi on 24 January; after staff and medics walked out over the inadequacy of security following a murder on its’ premises. The Sabri district also saw a brutal multiple-murder, after a man murdered his two brothers and his sister-in-law, resulting in shoot-out with police.