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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

270 Indians evacuated from Libya amid unrest

PTI  Nay Pyi Taw, August 09, 2014
First Published: 21:37 IST(9/8/2014) | Last Updated: 21:41 IST(9/8/2014)

As many as 270 Indians were on Saturday evacuated from trouble-torn Libya's Benghazi city where extremists have tightened their grip after weeks of wide-spread violence.

The Indians were being moved out of Benghazi by a ship to Malta from where they will be taken to India by a special flight, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here as he was accompanied by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the ASEAN summit.

The Spokesperson said the external affairs minister was monitoring the situation in Iraq and Libya from here.

Swaraj is here to attend the ASEAN-India foreign ministers meeting.

Akbaruddin said one person from Maldives was also on the Maldivian ship.

"The ship will go to Malta from where we will have a special flight to bring back the Indian passengers," he said.

The Islamist militias launched a counteroffensive after units loyal to a renegade army general attempted to dislodge them from the city months earlier.

After escalation of violence, India's mission in Tripoli had advised all its nationals to leave the strife-torn country using all available means and not to travel to that country.

Prior to the uprising in Libya, the number of Indians engaged there was estimated to be more than 18,000.

The Indian professionals were mainly employed in hospitals and other teaching institutions whereas a major part of manpower was engaged in construction projects.

During the course of revolution, most of them were evacuated to India in February/March 2011.

Few hundred Indians continued to serve in Libya even during the revolution period.

Gradually more Indians have returned to Libya and presently there are about 6000 Indians engaged there.

About the situation in Iraq following US bombardment, the MEA Spokesperson said India has been monitoring the situation.

"We have been monitoring the situation," he said.

There are large number of Indians in Kurdish areas. There are 39 Indians in Mosul in captivity and government has been making efforts to ensure their release.

"We have set up a camp office in Erbil to assist any Indians should they require any assistance," the MEA Spokesperson said.

The US military on Friday began its air strikes on areas in Iraq controlled by Islamist militants as it dropped laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery in a bid to halt the advance of terrorists on the city of Erbil where American diplomats are stationed.


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