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Seoul issues stronger travel alert on Libya

The Foreign Ministry issued an alert against traveling to all regions of Libya on Tuesday, strengthening its previous warning as anti-government protests have been spreading across the northern African state and rioters breaking into Korean construction sites.

Under the second-highest travel alert, all South Korean nationals are advised to leave the state or defer nonessential trips, the ministry said.

A growing number of casualties are being reported, especially in the eastern regions of Benghazi, Al Bayda and Derna, as police clash with protesters calling for the resignation of their ruler, Moammar Gadhafi.

A number of South Korean construction sites have also fallen victim to the violent protests engulfing Libya, with three South Korean workers hurt during a clash near Tripoli on Monday.

Related South Korean ministries held an emergency meeting Monday evening, discussing measures to avoid further casualties of its nationals residing in the unstable African state.

Seoul Ambassador to Libya Jo Dae-sik, currently in the country to attend an annual conference of diplomatic mission chiefs, will cut short his trip and return Tuesday along with a government-dispatched quick response team, the Foreign Ministry said after the meeting.

The Seoul government has also prepared emergency evacuation plans which will include special flights.

Anti-government protests that toppled long-ruling dictators in Tunisia and Egypt have been spreading across the Middle East and North African states in recent months.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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