Turkey flies citizens home from Libya

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Turkey flies citizens home from Libya

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Nearly 300 Turkish citizens have been evacuated from Libya and flown home on chartered flights. Mostly construction workers and their families, they had been living in Benghazi which has seen some of the fiercest clashes.

The eastern city where security forces have fired on demonstrators is now said to be largely under the control of protesters.

Some of the passengers were reluctant to talk about their experiences.

One did describe how stones had been thrown at his group as they left their construction site, adding that some friends of his were injured. Another said his former workplace, a Turkish-Arab corporation, no longer existed, but no-one was harmed.

Relieved passengers applauded as the plane took off for Istanbul, where they were later reunited with anxious relatives.

The Turkish government is stepping up efforts to repatriate its citizens in Libya, who number around 3,000. Ships have been sent and more flights are being organised.

One plane sent to Benghazi to bring people out was refused permission to land.

There are conflicting reports from Brussels.

According to the Spanish foreign minister the EU is to evacuate its citizens from Libya, although her French counterpart said there were no plans to repatriate France’s 750 nationals, as there had been no “direct threats”.