PH embassy in Libya evacuates non-core staff

Posted at 07/28/14 12:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday said all non-core staff of the Philippine embassy in Tripoli are being relocated to Tunisia, amid growing violence in Libya.

The DFA said the embassy stafff's family members and dependents were repatriated last week.

Only male officers and staff augmented by the Rapid Response Teams remained in Tripoli to oversee OFW repatriation. The DFA placed Libya under Crisis Alert Level 4 which calls for mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos.

The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli once again urged Filipinos to sign up for evacuation before all routes and options become extremely difficult.

Reuters reported that at least 36 people were killed in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi where Libyan Special Forces and Islamist militants clashed on Saturday night and Sunday morning, citing medical and security sources.

The Libyan government said more than 150 people have died, many of them civilian, in the capital Tripoli and Benghazi in two weeks of fighting as clashes forced U.S. and foreign diplomats to pull out of the country.

In Tripoli, 23 people, all Egyptian workers, were killed when a rocket hit their home on Saturday during fighting between rival militias battling over the city's main airport, the Egyptian state news agency reported.

Since the clashes erupted a fortnight ago, 94 people have died in the capital, and more than 400 have been injured as militias exchanged rocket and artillery fire across southern Tripoli, the health ministry said.

"Most of the victims we have noticed are civilians as the fighters have their own hospitals on the battlefield," a Benghazi medical source told Reuters.

Fuel storage tanks that supply Tripoli were hit on Sunday by rockets igniting a huge fire near the international airport, the National oil corporation (NOC) said.

"It is a tank of 6 million litres of gasoline and it is close to others containing gas and diesel," NOC spokesman Mohamed al-Alharari said. "The firefighters are trying to counter the fire but if they cannot, a big disaster will happen" he added.

Diplomats flee

In the last two weeks, Libya has descended into its deadliest violence since the 2011 war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, with the central government unable to impose order.

The United States, the United Nations and Turkey have pulled their diplomats out of the North African country.

The United States evacuated its embassy on Saturday, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under heavy military protection because of Tripoli clashes near the embassy compound.

A British embassy convoy was hit by gunfire during an attempted hijacking outside the capital Tripoli on the way to the Tunisian border, but no-one was injured in the incident, an embassy official said on Sunday. - With Reuters