In 1911 Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (now Libya) were the only territories in North Africa not under the control of European nations - they were part of the Ottoman Empire. On 28 September 1911 Italy gave Turkey an ultimatum: agree to the military occupation of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica by Italian forces or face war.
But even before the ultimatum had been received, Italian warships were seen off the port of Tripoli, and before the stated expiry date of 2:30 pm on the 29th, an Italian destroyer had entered the harbor and Italian citizens in Tripoli were ordered to take refuge on an Italian steamer.
On Saturday 30 September Italy ordered an assault on the town, but it was only three days later that the warships began their bombardment. One Turkish gunboat was reported sunk. By 5 October 1911, with Turkish forces overwhelmed Italy took control of Tripoli. The first shots of the Italo-Turkish War (29 September 1911 - 18 October 1912) had been fired.
Italy's claim to Tripolitania dated back to the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Britain and France looking to occupy Cyprus and Tunisia offered Italy Tripoli as a goodwill gesture. The Turkish Governor of Tripoli was reported to have requisitioned all available camels and retreated with his troops into the desert - an environment the Italians were not equipped for pursuit.