WASHINGTON (AP) The State Department has shuttered the U.S. embassy in Libya and evacuated American staffers there as the security situation in the capital Tripoli deteriorates amid worsening clashes between rival militias. <br />
The department said in a statement that American embassy staff left Tripoli on Saturday and traveled overland to neighboring Tunisia. Embassy operations in Tripoli will be suspended until the security situation improves, it said. Tripoli has been embroiled for weeks in inter-militia violence that has killed and wounded dozens on all sides. The fighting has been particularly intense at the city's airport. <br />
The suspension marks the second time in a little more than three years that Washington has closed its embassy in Libya. In Feb. 2011, the embassy suspended operations amid the uprising that eventually toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.