July 29, 2014 / 12:48 PM / 6 years ago

Canada temporarily pulls diplomats out of Libya amid fighting

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks to the media before a working lunch with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo July 28, 2014. Baird is in Japan for a four-day visit. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT)

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is temporarily pulling its diplomats out of conflict-torn Libya due to fears about their safety, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Tuesday.

The African country is sliding into a state of anarchy as rival militia forces battle for control in the capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

“Due to operational challenges, including the unpredictable security environment in Tripoli, we have authorized the temporary suspension of operations at our office in Tripoli,” Baird said in a statement.

The Netherlands, the Philippines and Austria made preparations on Monday to evacuate diplomatic staff.

The United States, United Nations and Turkish embassies have already shut their operations.

“This decision is solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel and has no connection with our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with Libya,” said Baird.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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