LONDON—The British government said on Thursday there is an imminent threat to Westerners in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and urged British nationals to leave.
The U.K. Foreign Office said in a statement that it was "now aware of a specific and imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi." The U.K. has advised British nationals against all travel to Benghazi since the September 2012 assaults on U.S. government posts. The Foreign Office in its alert on Thursday said it advised any who remain to "leave immediately."
The statement said only that the threat was to Westerners and didn't provide further detail.
The threat appears to be related to Islamic extremists, according to a person familiar with the matter, who declined to identify exactly where it came from.
The person added that the British government knows that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, uses northern Mali as an operating base and has the proven capability of traveling long distances to carry out attacks.
AQIM and related groups have spread across a territory that encompasses parts of Mali, Algeria, Libya and Chad. There are a range of groupings and criminal gangs in the area that carry out a range of acts from terrorist attacks to kidnappings for financial reward.