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(LEAD) S. Korea to dispatch Navy destroyer to evacuate nationals from Libya

2014/08/07 11:42

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will dispatch a 4,500-ton Navy destroyer to Libya on Thursday as the country starts to evacuate South Koreans from the African country amid a worsening security situation there, the foreign ministry said.

The dispatch came after the government issued a top-tier travel alert for the violence-ravaged country last week, requiring South Koreans based in Libya to evacuate.

"The Munmu the Great will leave Oman's Port of Salalah in the afternoon to arrive in the sea of Libya around mid-August with a mission to evacuate South Koreans," a foreign ministry official said.

The Navy ship had been carrying out a military mission in the Gulf of Aden, he said, adding that it has yet to be decided at which Libyan port the ship will pick up South Koreans.

The majority of around 500 South Korean citizens based in Libya are scheduled to leave the country through land routes, civilian jets and chartered ships by mid-August following last week's evacuation order.

The Navy ship will then pick up those who still remain in the country, possibly including the staff of the South Korean Embassy in Libya, the official noted.

The country is currently reviewing the withdrawal of the South Korean diplomatic mission there.

South Korea previously dispatched another Navy destroyer, the Choe Yeong, to Libya for a similar evacuation mission in 2011 amid a civil war.

The latest decision marks the government's first dispatch of a military vessel on an evacuation mission since 2011.

The security situation in Libya is fast worsening as various militia groups have intensified battles in the capital of Tripoli, killing more than 200 people in recent weeks.

Amid growing security risks, the United Nations and the United States have withdrawn their staff and nationals from Libya, and some countries have told their citizens to leave, according to foreign reports.

Seen above is the South Korean Navy destroyer to be dispatched to Libya on an evacuation mission. (Yonhap file photo)

Seen above is the South Korean Navy destroyer to be dispatched to Libya on an evacuation mission. (Yonhap file photo)

pbr@yna.co.kr

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