Britain's arms dealers were hawking their wares in Libya the day before threats emerged of a terrorists attack with Western weapons, the Morning Star can reveal.
Ex-pats were streaming out of Benghazi on Friday after the Foreign Office warned of an "imminent threat to Westerners" in the wake of Britain's planned drone strikes in Mali.
The strikes are part of a French-led campaign on behalf of Mali's government to destroy Tuareg separatist militias and Islamists in the country's north.
Both the US and Britain have acknowledged the fighters likely obtained their weapons from the stockpiles of deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, prompting criticisms of Western arms sales in the region.
But a government trade official confirmed to the Morning Star on Friday that British firms were back lobbying Libyan brass at an arms expo in the capital of Tripoli just 24 hours before the warning went out.
The First Libyan Technologies Military Science Exhibition hosted 65 companies from 16 countries - including Cardiff's BCB International, selling weapon accessories, projectile launchers and reconnaissance drones.
A Libyan liaison for UK Trade and Investment's defence and security organisation told the Star there had been "a fair amount" of British exhibitors at the Tripoli air base, although no major events had taken place.
But Campaign Against Arms Trade's Kaye Stearman said the news was "deeply worrying."
"Libya is a deeply unstable country," she said.
Britain's Middle East Association, which is planning a trade mission in March to discuss "civil security" contracts, did not return requests for comment.