U.S. Officials Act To Protect Americans, Interests In Libya

U.S. government officials stepped up their efforts to get American citizens out of an increasingly chaotic Libya Friday, evacuating one group of people to Malta on a ferry and another to Istanbul on a chartered flight.

At least 300 people were on the ferry to Malta. It was not immediately clear how many people were on the flight, which departed from Tripoli.

The Obama administration also took steps to ensure that embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his top henchmen don't steal state assets in what may be their final days in power. The Treasury Department has advised banks to monitor accounts held by the regime's key political figures and to report financial transactions ""that could potentially represent misappropriated or diverted state assets, proceeds of bribery or other illegal payments, or other public corruption proceeds,"" according to a government statement.

Clashes between Libyan security forces and protesters were reported Friday in Tripoli, a Gadhafi stronghold. Eastern Libya appears to be largely in the hands of anti-government forces.

President Barack Obama spoke Thursday with the leaders of France, Italy and the United Kingdom on coordinating an international response to the crisis in the north African nation.