Monday, May 2, 2011

UN pulls intl. staff out of Libyan capital

Libyan government officials and members of the media inspect ruins of a house at the site of a NATO missile attack in Tripoli, Libya, April 30

Source: Press TV

The UN says it has pulled its international staff from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as attacks by Western countries and Libyan regime have deteriorated the security situation in the capital.

"The 12 United Nations international staff in Tripoli have temporarily left the capital and are in Tunisia," AFP quoted UN spokesman, Martin Nesirky, as saying in New York on Sunday.

Another UN spokesperson has acknowledged that they have left Tripoli as a result of unrest in the city.

"Apparently there was unrest in Tripoli and they've decided to leave the city," Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Sunday.

The international staff was dispatched to Libya last month when the UN made an agreement with the Libyan government to set up a humanitarian campaign in the African country.

The UN says the outgoing staff will continue to cover western Libya from neighboring Tunisia, adding that the UN local staff will not be affected by the decision which was taken after UN offices were attacked by outraged people.

The attacks on UN missions took place after Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab, and three of his grandchildren were killed in an airstrike by NATO fighter jets.

Angry crowds also attacked UK and Italian embassies on Sunday in retaliation for killing of Gaddafi's family members. Reports said the British embassy was totally destroyed.

Following the UK embassy attack, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Libyan ambassador Omar Jelban had been given 24 hours to leave England, adding that Libya has once again violated its international responsibilities for protecting diplomatic missions.

Most Western countries got their staff out of Libya several weeks ago when NATO kicked off the airstrikes against Gaddafi forces with the claimed goal of protecting civilians. Italy, which shut its embassy in March, has lately joined military operation in Libya.

The Libyan government has said NATO's attack was “a direct operation to assassinate the leader of the country,” but the military alliance says they targeted a command and control building and their target was “military in nature.”

US Senator John McCain, top Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Sunday Gaddafi's command and control should be destroyed and “if he (Gaddafi) is killed or injured because of that, that's fine.”

McCain has repeatedly asked the administration of US President Barack Obama to step up military pressure on the Gaddafi regime.

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