Foreign Office warns of rally dangers

The British Foreign Office has warned against “all but essential” travel to Libya as the threat of civil grows in the north African destination.

Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, warned in a televised address earlier the country could be at risk of civil war as anti-government protests spread to the capital Tripoli.

As many as 233 people have been killed in recent demonstrations, according to Human Rights Watch, with the administration now offering concessions to demonstrators.

Authorities have come in for criticism from around the world following reports of live ammunition being used against protestors.

Reports suggesting Col Gaddafi has left Libya were also quashed by his son, who revealed he remained in the country “leading the battle”.

In response to the developing crisis tourists were being urged to reconsider travel plans in the country.

“We recommend against all but essential travel to Libya,” read an FCO statement.

“Those without a pressing need to remain in the country, should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so.”

Arab Unrest

Demonstrations began on February 15th, with violent clashes reported in the East of the country.

Large numbers of casualties have been reported.

These demonstrations have now spread to other areas of the country, including the towns of Misurata and Zawiya. 

Benghazi, the country’s second city at an epicentre of unrest, appears to be largely under the control of protesters after four days of unrest.

Unconfirmed reports say an army general there has defected to the opposition.

Hospitals in the city are said to be struggling to cope with casualties, with one doctor saying he had received 50 bodies on Sunday afternoon alone.

Tourism in Libya

At present roughly 130,000 people visit Libya annually.

However, the Libyan government has recently outlined plans to increase the figure to ten million international visitors each year.

Saif al-Islam has previously taken a leading roll in the plans, with personal involvement in a green development project called the Green Mountain Sustainable Development Area.

The project is designed to bring tourism to Cyrene and to preserve Greek ruins in the area.