Nearly one hundred EU nationals have arrived safely in Rome after being rescued by the Italian military from Libya. The escalating crisis in the north African state has prompted several countries to accelerate the evacuation of foreign citizens.
‘‘There’s a lot of checkpoints throughout the country, mainly down the south, with, you know, police and army at checkpoints. No one really knows who is pro and who is anti, there are a lot of kids out there with AK47’s,’‘ one passenger arriving in Rome said.
A major maritime operation was also underway on Thursday. Many of those fleeing spoke about the intensity of the violence and their fear it would spread.
‘‘It’s a disaster, a real disaster, a human disaster. He (Gaddafi) is not a human being. He’s a machine,’‘ one Libyan woman arriving on the Greek island of Crete said.
‘‘I wanted to get out of there – I wasn’t afraid – because it might escalate you know. I think it’s going to get worse in Tripoli and filter down to Benghazi, I think so,’‘ said a South African man.
The British frigate, HMS Cumberland, also left the Libyan port of Benghazi on Thursday with 200 people.
Prime Minister David Cameron, however, has apologised for the UK government’s handling of the evacuation, following criticism it was slow to react to the crisis.