TODAY.AZ / World news

Thousands of Turks held hostage in Libyan stadium

22 February 2011 [17:15] - TODAY.AZ
Thousands of Turkish nationals were being held hostage in a stadium in the Libyan city of Benghazi as the Turkish government ramped up efforts to evacuate its citizens, DPA reported Tuesday according to Turkish media.

Turkey began evacuating its citizens on Sunday, in response to deadly protests against the Libyan government. But by Tuesday, only about a thousand of the nearly 25,000 Turkish citizens living there had been able to leave.

Between 3,500 and 4,000 Turkish workers attempting to fly out of Benghazi over the weekend were trapped in the local airport amidst battles between Libyan protestors and security forces.

The workers were moved into a stadium on Monday by a militia group with the intent of using them as leverage against the Libyan government, Hurriyet newspaper reported Tuesday. The newspaper quoted some of the workers as saying they were hungry and feared for their lives.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said it had planes ready to evacuate the workers, but that it was not possible for them to land at Benghazi airport. A chartered Turkish Airlines plane was refused permission to land there on Monday and returned to Istanbul.

Turkey has also sent two ships, capable of carrying about 2,400 people, which were expected to reach Libya on Tuesday afternoon. The government was preparing to send two additional ships. Other Turkish citizens were attempting to travel over land from Libya into Egypt, from where they were to be flown to Turkey.


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