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Turkish company evacuates power station workers in Libya amidst threats

Hundreds of Turkish labourers who work on the Gulf Steam Station Project for energy production in the city of Sirte, central Libya, have been evacuated to Turkey after receiving threats from forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar, an official source in Libya's General Electric Company said on Thursday.

The director of the information office for the company, Lutfi Ghuma, told Anadolu news agency that, "650 Turkish engineers and workers of Turkey's Gama Holding have left Libya after receiving threats from forces loyal to General Haftar."

Ghuma pointed out that the workers' departure has "stopped work at the station".

Nearly 3,000 workers, engineers and technicians specialised in electrical work from four international companies – Turkish, Korean, French and US -are employed in the Gulf Steam Station Project under the supervision of Libya's General Electric Company.

The Libyan project costs nearly two billion Libyan dinars ($1 billion).

The production line at the station's first unit began in late May with a capacity of 350 megawatts, while the work is under way to construct the three remaining units.

Hundreds of Turkish and Qatari citizens left cities in eastern Libya after General Haftar's forces gave them 48 hours starting from Saturday evening to leave all regions in eastern Libya otherwise be arrested and tried, according to an earlier statement by the forces spokesperson, Colonel Mohammed Hijazi.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry responded to the threats by saying that the "media statements of Haftar's forces granting 48-hour deadline for citizens of some countries to leave the eastern region does not represent the official position of the Libyan state".

Turkey announced on 13 June the closure of its Consulate General in the city of Benghazi in eastern Libya and renewed its warning to Turkish nationals against travelling to Libya and in particular to the eastern regions, due to instability in many Libyan cities.

Forces loyal to General Haftar started a military operation in May against Islamist militants they claim are "terrorists linked to the Libyan Joint Chiefs of Staff in the city of Benghazi", which government officials describe as "a coup against legitimacy".

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