Italy suspends operations at Libya embassy

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ROME: Italy said on Sunday it was pulling out staff from its embassy in Libya and suspending operations there because of mounting insecurity in the troubled country. The move came as Rome reiterated its willingness to lead a multinational force to tackle the growing jihadist threat in Libya, a former Italian colony. In total, about 100 Italians were being evacuated by ship from the north African state, foreign ministry sources said. The ministry said the embassy — the last Western mission to remain open in Libya — has “suspended its activities because of the worsening security situation”. But it said in a statement that “essential services” would continue.

Rome had on Friday warned its nationals against travelling to Libya and urged those already there to leave as the jihadists gain ground.

However, hundreds of Italians, working in the Libyan oil and gas sector, remain in the country.

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview published Sunday that Italy was ready to lead a coalition from Europe and north African states to battle against the advance of jihadists in Libya.