“In view of the current security situation in Libya, all Indian nationals are advised to move to safe places and avoid all conflict zones. They are further advised to use all available means for exiting Libya. All travel from India to Libya should be postponed till the situation improves,” said an advisory from India’s external affairs ministry.
The advisory comes after clashes escalated between government forces and Islamist militants in Tripoli and Benghazi killed over 150 people.
The new wave of violence is the worse since the ousting of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, say experts.
A large contingent of Indian nurses, approximately 80, has sought help from the Indian Mission in Tripoli to return home.
“Everybody is safe here. We are in constant touch with the nurses,” said, Azar A.H. Khan, India’s Ambassador in Libya, who met the nurses in the Tripoli hospitals and assured them of their safety.
The ambassador, however, said that only some Indian nationals, mostly nurses, have approached the embassy for help in leaving the country.
There are about 6000 Indian nationals in Libya, including 750 nurses working in Tripoli and Benghazi hospitals.
Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, said that India is working to evacuate all its nationals from the Libya. He added that 62 coordinators have been set up already to facilitate the exit of nationals. He assured that all Indians are safe and that the ministry would be providing them with air tickets to return to India, if they so desired.
However, the closure of Tripoli’s airport due to a major gun battle between nearby has made evacuation more difficult.
The only other “safe” option for exit is through the land border Libya shares with Tunisia and Egypt.
In 2011, India conducted Operation Safe Homecoming, whereby thousands of Indian nationals were evacuated from Libya by special Air India flights or with help from Indian Navy.
Oomen Chandy, the chief minister of Kerala, where many of the 65 nurses are from, said he had requested help from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to evacuate the nurses. The Andhra Pradesh government has also written to Sushma Swaraj, seeking help in evacuating people from the State.
This incident comes close on heels of the dramatic rescue of 46 Indian nurses from Iraq.
Thirty-nine Indian construction workers continue to be held hostage by Sunni militants The Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq.
The US, United Nations and France are also pulling diplomats out of the North African oil-producing state, while Britain and Germany have issued advisories asking their citizens to leave Libya.
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