Turkey shuts Benghazi consulate due to security threat

Turkey shuts Benghazi consulate due to security threat

ANKARA – Reuters
Turkey shuts Benghazi consulate due to security threat

A man walks past destroyed warehouses following Friday's clashes between Libyan irregular forces and Islamist militias in Benghazi, May 17. REUTERS Photo

Turkey temporarily closed its consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi on May 19, a spokesman said, because of a threat of an attack after scores of people were killed in clashes between a renegade general and Islamist militias.

The flag that normally flies over the consul building in Libya's second city had been taken down according to a Reuters witness, but Turkish officials said staff had not been evacuated.

The consulate was closed after a specific threat, Tanju Bilgic, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said, without giving further details.

"The consulate has been closed for today as a security measure. Whether it will remain closed tomorrow or not will be decided in light of the security situation," he said.

Turkey is one of the last countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Benghazi, where the U.S. ambassador was killed during an attack by Islamist militants on the American diplomatic mission in the port city in 2012.

Saudi Arabia closed its embassy and consulate in the capital Tripoli, in western Libya, and withdrew all of its diplomatic staff on Monday due to security concerns, the ambassador said.