By Taher Zaroog.
Misrata, 24 June 2014:
Two planeloads of Turks working in Libya were airlifted from Misrata today.
The exodus follows General Khalifa . . .[restrict]Hafter’s warning three days ago to Turks and Qataris “from Sirte to Musaid” to quit the country “within 48 hours”. Hafter’s spokesman Mohamed Hejazi alleged at the time that there were Turkish and Qatari spies in the two communities, threatening action against them if they did not go.
Yesterday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister dismissed the claims as groundless. “Turkey or someone from Turkey cannot be accused of such an offence,” he said.
Those who left Misrata today – some 417 – were working for Turkish construction company Gama, which is building the new Khalij Power Station in Sirte. They had been bussed in early this morning, arriving at the airport at 6am according to an airport official. He told the Libya Herald that 286 flew out at midday and the rest of the second flight at 3 pm.
A third plane was due to fly from Labraq to Istanbul this evening to take Turks from the Benghazi area, according to Turkish officials.
Gama has issued as statement saying that that it had evacuated its employees after “taking into consideration the latest developments in Libya”. It indicated that it had chartered the two aircraft.
The departure of the Gama workers may result in further power cuts, particularly in the Tripoli area. The first of four 350-megawatt turbines at the Khalij Power Station was commissioned and linked to the national grid just three weeks ago. The exodus means that the other units will not be brought on stream at present and the turbine that is already working may have to be turned off without the staff to monitor it. [/restrict]