Indians in Libya safe: Government (Lead)

February 20th, 2011 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Amidst reports of protests being violently put down in Libya, India Sunday assured that all Indians in the country are safe and that it was closely following the situation there. According to the ministry of external affairs, there are about 18,000 Indians in Libya.

The government also advised its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Libya at the moment in view of the prevailing situation there.

“Indians in Libya safe. Embassy in touch with Indians and Indian companies throughout Libya,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao posted on her twitter account Sunday.

With journalists barred from Libya, reports from various sources in the country indicated that over 80 people have died in protests since Friday, especially in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi.

The external affairs ministry’s official spokesperson, in a statement, said: “All Indians, numbering around 18,000, are safe in Libya. We are following the situation closely. Presently disturbances have mainly been reported in north-eastern cities of Benghazi, Derna, Baida and Tubruk.”

Emboldened by successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, thousands of Libyans have been calling for the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, who has been in power for 41 years.

In recent years, several public and private Indian companies have made a significant presence in Libya, including ONGC Videsh Limited, BHEL, Oil India, Punj Llyod, Unitech, Shapoorji Pallonji International, NIIT and Sun Pharma.

The external affairs ministry said the Indian embassy in Tripoli had set up a round-the-clock control room for further assistance in Libya.

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