MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Thursday evacuated all of its diplomats and their families from Libya, the day after a mob attack on the Russian Embassy, and issued a warning to its citizens against visiting the country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said none of the embassy staff was hurt in Wednesday’s attack, which came in response to the death of a Libyan air force officer, who was allegedly killed by a Russian woman.
An armed mob broke into the embassy compound in the Libyan capital Tripoli, climbing over walls, breaking down a metal gate and shooting in the air. One of the attackers was killed by the gunfire, and four more were wounded, Libyan officials said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in Thursday’s statement that Moscow decided to evacuate the embassy after Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz visited its grounds and told the Russian ambassador that Libya was unable to protect the personnel.
Lukashevich added that all the embassy workers and their families safely crossed the border into Tunisia Thursday. He said that the Libyan authorities had promised to protect Russian assets and try to quickly restore conditions for the safe operations of the embassy.
Several senior diplomats will stay in Tunisia to maintain contacts with Libya, while the rest of the embassy workers will be flown to Moscow Friday, Lukashevich said.
He added that the Foreign Ministry recommends Russian citizens should refrain from visiting Libya.
Wednesday’s violence briefly raised fears of a repeat of last year’s deadly attack on a U.S. compound in the eastern city of Benghazi, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed. In that instance, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack, militants fired mortars at the diplomatic post, surrounded it and set it on fire.
A Libyan official said Wednesday’s attackers took down the Russian flag that was hanging from the balcony of one of the buildings. But they did not enter the embassy buildings, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.