Russia evacuates embassy staff in Libya

Russia evacuates embassy staff in Libya
Fri Oct 4, 2013 16:39:19

Russia evacuates embassy staff and their families from Libya via Tunisia after gunmen tried to storm its diplomatic mission in Tripoli.

A Russian Emergencies Ministry plane carrying Russian embassy staff and their families from Libya landed in Moscow on Friday.

The plane with 52 people on board took off from the Tunisian town of Djerba. It arrived at Moscow's Domodedovo airport at 10.33 am (0633 GMT).

The attackers, who dispersed when embassy security guards opened fire, had planned to avenge the murder of a Libyan military officer by a Russian woman living in Tripoli, the foreign ministry said in a statement.  

The statement said that staff and their families had taken refuge in safe rooms during the attack. They were evacuated to Tunisia on Thursday. 

The attack demonstrated the volatility in oil-producing Libya two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, and the problems faced by his former ally Russia as it tries to put billions of dollars' worth of energy and arms deals back on track.  

The Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin were keen to play down political angles of the attack, citing the murder as the cause.

Diplomatic sources in Libya said security guards fired shots to disperse a group of about 60 people who tried to storm the embassy on Wednesday (October 2).

Russian agencies said the gunmen arrived in two vehicles before opening fire.   

Russia sought to underline cooperation by the two countries to re-establish full diplomatic presence in Libya and reduce any long-term impact.