September 1, 2015 / 8:59 PM / 2 years ago

Libya's official government bans Yemenis, Iranians, Pakistanis from entry

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libya’s internationally recognized administration based in the east has banned Yemenis, Iranians and Pakistanis from entering the divided country, a military statement said on Tuesday.

Black smoke billows in the sky above areas where clashes are taking place between pro-government forces, who are backed by the locals, and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels, who have joined forces with the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi, Libya September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

The move widens a visa ban already applied to Sudanese, Bangladeshis, Palestinians and Syrians.

Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni runs only a rump state in eastern Libya after a rival group seized Tripoli a year ago, setting ups its own parliament and a government not recognized by world powers.

Thinni’s government and allied security forces would therefore only be able to enforce the ban at the eastern airports of Tobruk and Labraq and the land crossing with Egypt.

Top army commander Khalifa Haftar, allied to Thinni, signed the latest ban, which cited the overall security situation and a need to preserve “the nation’s security and stability”.

The decision, a copy of which was received by Reuters and confirmed by a senior military official, also said that Sudanese and Bangladeshi were not allowed to come to Libya, as mentioned in previous government statements.

Haftar has repeatedly accused Sudanese, Palestinians and Syrians of having joined Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist groups which are his forces in the eastern city of Benghazi. He has also accused Yemenis of having joined Islamists.

In September 2014, Thinni said Sudan had attempted to airlift weapons and ammunition to the new Tripoli rulers. Khartoum denied this, saying the weapons were meant for a joint border force under a bilateral agreement.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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