The United States shut down its embassy in Libya today and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli, the State Department said. Officials blamed intensified fighting between rival militias. The withdrawal underscored the Obama administration's concern about the heightened risk to American diplomats abroad, particularly in Libya where memories of the deadly 2012 attack on the US mission in the eastern city of Benghazi are still vivid.
The State Department also issued a travel warning urging Americans not to go to the country and recommending that those already there leave immediately. "The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security," it said. "Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation." American personnel at the Tripoli embassy left the capital around dawn and traveled by road to Tunisia. (Read more US Embassy stories.)