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Officials: Tunisian embassy in Libya stormed, hostages held

An armed militia has stormed the Tunisian embassy in Libya and is holding staff members hostage, according to the Tunisian Foreign Ministry. The group responsible for the attack has not yet been identified.

A statement released by Tunisian officials on Friday afternoon said there had been an "intrusion of an armed group in the offices of the Tunisian consulate in Tripoli and the detention of 10 staff of the mission."

"All government services are following developments with interest in coordination with Libyan, regional and international parties, to liberate without delay the Tunisian mission team and guarantee its safety," it added.

The group responsible for the attack, which authorities have called a "flagrant violation of Tunisia's international sovereignty and international and diplomatic norms," has not been identified.

Tunisia is one of just a handful of countries with embassies still open in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Last July,

French and British nationals were evacuated from the country

due to the deteriorating security situation.

In April, a bomb went off outside the gates of the Moroccan embassy, while on the same day gunmen opened fire on the South Korean embassy, killing a security guard.

'Islamic State' expanding its reach

Tripoli is controlled by the Islamist Fajr Libya movement, which

seized the city in 2014

. The movement drove out the nation's internationally recognized government, which continues to meet in the eastern city of Tobruk. Last month, a militia belonging to the city's ruling coalition seized 245 Tunisians, later releasing them unharmed.

Tunisia is worried continued fighting may spill over the border from Libya, which has spiraled into chaos following a 2011 civil war and the toppling of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Recent months have seen extremist group "Islamic State" expand its reach in the North African country.

On Friday, the country's Foreign Ministry repeated warnings to it citizens against traveling to Libya. Libya is also a key gateway for

refugees trying to journey to Europe

.

an/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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