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State Dept.: Get out of Libya

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All hell is breaking loose in Libya, and the State Department this afternoon ordered non-essential employees and employees’ family members to evacuate the country.

In a travel warning posted online, State also advised any U.S. citizens staying in the country to avoid demonstrations and leave an area immediately if a demonstration begins.

State issued a similar warning for Egypt Feb. 1, as the protests that culminated in Hosni Mubarak’s resignation started to grow and some were concerned about the potential for violence. But the situation in Libya already is much uglier than Cairo ever was.

Hundreds of protesters may have already been killed, and there are reports that helicopters are firing into crowds and the Libyan navy is shelling Tripoli. Al Jazeera reports that two pilots — reportedly “senior colonels” — defected to Malta after refusing orders to bomb protesters. And Moammar Gaddafi may already have fled.

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