Philippines evacuates embassy staff in war-torn Libya
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has evacuated some staff of the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, Libya as fighting intensified between rival militias.
“Due to the increasing violence and lawlessness in Tripoli, all non-core staff of the Philippine Embassy there are being relocated to Tunisia. Staff dependents were repatriated last week,” the DFA said in a statement Monday.
“Male officers and staff augmented by the Rapid Response Teams remain in Tripoli to oversee OFW repatriation under Alert Level 4 which calls for mandatory evacuation,” it said.
Libya is on the verge of civil war as rival factions fight over territory amid little government control.
The government has been unstable since the fall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddhafi in 2011.
Embassies of other countries including the United States, have also ordered their staff evacuated fearing violence.
“The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli continues to strongly urge Filipinos to enlist for evacuation before all routes and options become extremely difficult,” DFA said.
The Philippines has raised crisis alert level 4 in Libya, implementing a total deployment ban and mandatory evacuation.
One Filipino was reportedly kidnapped by militias and then beheaded for being a non-Muslim.
The Philippines is the latest in a number of countries to have closed diplomatic operations in Libya. The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under US military escort.
Turkey on Friday announced that it had shut its embassy and militia clashes in Benghazi have prompted the United Nations, aid groups and foreign envoys to leave.
In Tripoli, clashes near the international airport have forced residents to evacuate their homes nearby after they were hit by shells. On Friday, the official Libyan news agency LANA reported that explosions were heard early in the day near the airport area and continued into the afternoon.
The battle in Tripoli began earlier this month when Islamist-led militias — mostly from the western city of Misrata — launched a surprise assault on the airport, under control of rival militias from the western mountain town of Zintan. On Monday, a $113 million Airbus A330 passenger jet for Libya’s state-owned Afriqiyah Airways was destroyed in the fighting.
The rival militias, made up largely of former anti-Gadhafi rebels, have forced a weeklong closure of gas stations and government offices. In recent days, armed men have attacked vehicles carrying money from the Central Bank to local banks, forcing their closure. With Associated Press
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