MOSCOW - Russia evacuated embassy staff and their families from Libya on Thursday after gunmen tried to storm its diplomatic mission in Tripoli.
The attackers, who dispersed when embassy security guards opened fire, had planned to avenge the murder of a Libyan military officer by a Russian woman living in Tripoli, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Relatives and friends of the murdered Libyan decided to avenge his death with an attack on the Russian diplomatic mission," the statement said.
The decision to evacuate staff was taken after Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelaziz visited the embassy.
The ministry said he had told the Russian ambassador that Libya was "not in a state to guarantee the security of the Russian embassy and recommended his employees leave the diplomatic mission".
The statement said that staff and their families had taken refuge in safe rooms during the attack. They were evacuated to Tunisia on Thursday and expected to return to Russia on Friday.
The attack demonstrated the volatility in oil-producing Libya two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, and the problems faced by his former ally Russia as it tries to put billions of dollars' worth of energy and arms deals back on track.