TRIPOLI, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States evacuated its embassy in Libya on Saturday, relocating staffers to neighboring Tunisia under heavy military escort after escalating clashes erupted between rival militia in Tripoli.
About 150 diplomats were escorted by three F-16 fighter jets providing air support and Osprey aircraft carrying Marines as a precaution, but there were no incidents during the five-hour drive from Tripoli to Tunisia, Libyan media reported.
The news was not released until all the staff were safe at Tunisia.
"Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya," spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
She said U.S. diplomats will continue to work on Libya issues in Tunis, Washington, or elsewhere in North Africa.
Clashes over Tripoli international airport control did not end as Islamist armed groups and Zintan militias have pounded each other with rockets and artillery fire in southern Tripoli near the U.S. embassy compound since July 13.
The violence is the worst seen in Tripoli and in eastern Benghazi since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011. Some countries fear Libya is teetering toward another civil war just three years after the NATO-backed war ended the Gaddafi's rule.
The Obama administration has been particularly sensitive about the security of its diplomatic mission in Libya since then ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya's second largest city Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.