European countries warn nationals of imminent threat in Benghazi after Algeria hostage crisis

Washington, Jan. 25 (ANI): Days after the deadly hostage crisis in Algeria, several European governments have warned of an 'imminent threat' to Westerners in neighboring Libya and urged their citizens to leave the eastern city of Benghazi.

The U.K. foreign office, however, did not provide further detail as to the nature of the threat in Benghazi.

The U.K., like the U.S., had advised its nationals against all travel to the city after the September 2012 attacks on U.S. government posts there, which killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Foreign Office, in its alert on Thursday, advised British nationals to leave immediately. Germany and the Netherlands later also urged their citizens to leave the Libyan city.

According to the report, the warnings come a day after a long-awaited appearance by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Congress, where she defended the Obama administration's handling of the September 11 attack in Benghazi.

Following the attack, the U.S. evacuated all government officials and contractors from the city.

At least 37 foreigners were killed during the four-day siege of a natural-gas plant in Algeria, about 30 kilometers from Libya's western border.

The Islamist militant group that claimed responsibility said it staged the attack in response to France's deployment of troops to help African forces fight al Qaeda affiliates in Mali.

The U.K., U.S. and Canada have provided cargo planes to support the French effort.

The threat in Benghazi appeared to be related to Islamist extremists, according to a person in the British government, who said the number of British citizens in Benghazi was in the dozens.

The Libyan government said that it was boosting security at its oil fields in response to the Algerian attack.

Many of the country's oil and gas exploration and production sites are located in the sparsely populated deserts of western Libya, near the Algerian border, the report added. (ANI)

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