Italy says it has repatriated by sea its embassy personnel from Tripoli because of deteriorating security in Libya.

Last week, gunmen from an al-Qaida inspired militia took over broadcast stations in the city of Sirte, according to a security official in Libya.

The Italian Foreign Ministry on Sunday advised Italian citizens to temporarily leave Libya "in light of growing instability." Many Italians work in the oil or construction businesses there.

Premier Matteo Renzi told Italian state TV that Italy is ready, as part of a U.N. mission, "to do our part to defend an idea of freedom and rights" in the Mediterranean area.

Italian officials worry that terrorists might slip into Italy on boats that frequently sail from Libya crowded with refugees and illegal migrants from Syria, Africa and elsewhere.