NATO allies trying to evacuate citizens from Libya

Two Libyan jets are parked at airport in Malta after their pilots asked for political asylum, Feb. 21, 2011.

From Selcan Hacaoglu, the AP:  Governments scrambled to send planes and ships to pick up their citizens stranded by Libya’s bloody unrest on Tuesday, with thousands of Turks crowding into a stadium to await evacuation and Egyptians gathering at the border to escape the chaos.

Two civilian ferries from Turkey and one military ship were expected to arrive in the hard-hit city of Benghazi on Tuesday to evacuate about 3,000 Turkish citizens after the country was unable to get permission to land at the airport. …

More than 200 Turkish companies are involved in construction projects worth more than $15 billion in Libya, State Minister Zafer Caglayan, who oversees foreign trade, said Monday. Some of the construction sites reportedly came under attack by protesters but no Turkish citizens have been harmed so far, authorities said. …

Italy was also sending an air force transport aircraft to Benghazi to evacuate roughly 100 Italian citizens from there. Italy’s state radio said Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa made the announcement to reporters in Abu Dhabi, where he is on an official visit.

Italy, with large energy interests in Libya, has some 1,500 citizens living or working in the country. Some citizens have been leaving in recent days aboard regularly scheduled commercial flights from Tripoli.

The Dutch foreign ministry said a military plane was waiting at a military airport in the southern city of Eindhoven for permission to land in Tripoli to pick up more than 100 Dutch citizens seeking to leave Libya. It later announced that a Navy Frigate, HMS Tromp, which had been on its way to protect ships from pirates off the Somali coast, was diverting to Libya as a precaution in case the plane did not get permission to land in Tripoli.  (photo: AP)

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