Turks flee Libya after threats

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iol pic afr _LIBYA-POLITICS-_0602_11 REUTERS Irregular forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar take their positions with their weapons during clashes with Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi. Picture: Stringer

Tripoli - More than 400 Turks were evacuated from Libya on Tuesday following threats by a rogue former rebel commander who accuses Ankara of backing his Islamist opponents, an airport official said.

The Turkish embassy chartered two aircraft to fly the 420 Turks home from Libya's third city Misrata, airport spokesman Mohamed Ismail told state news agency LANA.

Most of those evacuated had been working at a power station in the city of Sirte further east, hometown of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Ismail added.

Nobody at the Turkish embassy was immediately available to comment.

On Saturday, a spokesman for renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who launched an armed campaign against Islamist militias in second city Benghazi last month, gave Turks and Qataris 48 hours to leave the country.

Haftar accuses Ankara and Doha of backing the Islamist former rebel groups he has sworn to crush.


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