K Mammen Mathew
Berlin, Feb 27 (PTI) Several western countries haveevacuated their embassy staff and other foreign nationals fromLibya in secret military operations and temporarily closedtheir diplomatic missions there, as the world communityratcheted up pressure on the Gaddafi regime to stop the bloodycrackdown on anti-government protesters.
Over 130 foreigners, among them dozens of Germans and EUnationals, were flown out of Libya by two German militaryaircraft in a daring operation in which armed soldiers werereportedly involved.
The aircraft took off from a NATO base on the Greekisland of Crete and after picking up the evacuees at alocation in Southern Libya flew back to the base.
"I am very pleased that this evacuation mission was quitesuccessful," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle toldreporters here.
Three German warships dispatched by the country''sgovernment to evacuate German and EU nationals are on theirway to Libya and they are expected to reach its northern coastin the coming days.
Around 100 German nationals are still left in thetrouble-torn country and a crisis management team in theGerman Foreign Ministry is currently trying to locate them,Westerwelle said.
Yesterday''s rescue operation, without the permission ofthe Libyan authorities, was approved by Chancellor AngelaMerkel and Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.
In view of the deteriorating security situation in Libya,the German Foreign Ministry issued a new warning againsttravelling to that country.
The ministry also urged the German nationals still insideLibya to leave the country as soon as possible.
The US, Canada, Britain and France have temporarilyclosed their diplomatic missions in Tripoli after evacuatingtheir ambassadors and embassy staff, media reports said.
British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said two Royal AirForce C130 Hercules aircraft landed in the desert nearBenghazi in a secret operation and evacuated about 150 workersof British and other nationalities and they were flown toMalta. (More) PTI CORR