Sunday Jan 22, 201211:47 AM GMT
US closes embassy in Libya
Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:45AM
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Gate of US Embassy in Tripoli
The United States has shuttered its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli and levied financial sanctions against the authoritarian Muammar Gaddafi's regime.


The US State Department announced the closure on Friday, saying in light of the current security conditions in Libya, and due to an inability to ensure the safety and security of diplomatic personnel, Washington has decided to "temporarily" withdraw its diplomats and suspend all embassy operations in Tripoli, AFP reported.

US Embassy personnel had been ordered to leave Libya earlier this week after the United States decided to evacuate 40 non-essential personnel and embassy family members from the North African country.

On Friday, more than 300 American diplomats and their family members were evacuated by a US-chartered ferry from an airfield near downtown Tripoli to a port in Malta.

The announcement come against the backdrop of mounting violence in Tripoli as Libyan forces loyal to the country's embattled leader Gaddafi continue their massive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The move also comes after Washington imposed sanctions on Gaddafi's regime on Friday, and said the legitimacy of the 68-year-old ruler had been "reduced to zero."

US President Barack Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets of Gaddafi, his family and top officials, as well as the Libyan regime, the country's central bank and sovereign wealth funds.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Libyan security forces shot and killed protesters in the streets of Tripoli on Friday that "(Gaddafi) is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people ... and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people."

Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi as well as hundreds of foreign mercenaries opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in several districts in the capital Tripoli, killing scores of people and injuring several others after crowds of angry demonstrators took part in Friday Prayers.

According to reports, security forces on some occasions stormed hospitals in Tripoli and murdered protesters who were being treated amid deep concerns over the rising death toll, which is estimated to have surpassed 1,000.

The UN Security Council is set to meet on Saturday to discuss a draft resolution, calling for sanctions on the Libyan regime for its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

HA/TG/MGH
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