Filipinos near artillery attack sites in Libya urged to relocate

Filipinos near artillery attack sites in Libya urged to relocate

MANILA – The Philippine Embassy in Libya on Tuesday advised Filipinos to temporarily relocate from areas under artillery attacks, including the Tripoli International Airport.

In the last 24 hours, the shelling had hit Al Afia Clinic in Qasr bin Gashir and other locations. No Filipino was hurt.

“Bagamat walang naiulat na nasaktan na Filipino doon, sinisikap ng Pasuguan na ma-contact ang ating mga kababayan sa Al Afia at Al Nahr Company para pakiusapan muli na lumikas na muna sila pansamantala habang maaari pa (Though no Filipino was hurt, our embassy is trying to contact our countrymen in Al Afia and Al Nahr Company to appeal to them to temporarily relocate),” an Embassy statement read.

It also urged those at the Ali Omar Askar Hospital in Esbea to heed similar advice as fighting heads their way and more artillery rounds are expected to pound the area.

Chargé d’ Affaires Elmer Cato said there about 30 Filipino nurses, administrative staff and dependents, including one household service worker in Qasr bin Gashir, Esbea and surrounding places.

Earlier, a 60-year-old Filipina nurse sustained a shrapnel wound in the shoulder after an artillery round exploded outside the housing compound where she and several other Filipino hospital workers were staying at in Tripoli.

“She’s okay naman and was released after her wound was stitched,” Cato told the Philippine News Agency.

Several hospitals have also been struck by artillery or rockets in the past week. There are around 1,000 Filipinos in Tripoli and surrounding areas, most of whom are hospital workers.

According to Cato, Armed Forces of the Philippines officers, Lt. Col. Rommel Bogñalba and Lt. Col. Glenn Apresto, arrived in Libya last March to help assess the situation on the ground.

Meanwhile, he noted that no Filipino has so far been infected with coronavirus in Libya despite the surge during the past week.

“Libya still has the lowest number of Covid-19 cases in North Africa,” he said.

Haftar’s militias neutralized

Citing military report on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported that Libyan army forces targeted warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias in southern Tripoli.

The army neutralized two militia units in airstrikes carried out near the city of Gharyan, 100 km (62.13 miles) south of Tripoli, the government-led Operation Volcano of Rage said in a statement.

Two military vehicles belonging to Haftar were also destroyed in the airstrikes.

In a separate statement, military spokesman Mohammed Qanunu said 12 members of Haftar’s militias had been neutralized in five separate airstrikes carried out by the army over the past 24 hours near the town of Esabia in southern Tripoli.

A total of seven military vehicles of Haftar’s forces, one ammunition transport vehicle, and one United Arab Emirates-made armored vehicle, were destroyed in the airstrikes, Qanunu added.

Libya’s internationally recognized government, also known as the Government of National Accord, has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019.

In March, the Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm to counter attacks on the capital, and recently regained strategic locations, including the Al-Watiya airbase, in a major blow to Haftar’s forces.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said Haftar has agreed to the resumption of ceasefire talks.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by Haftar’s forces. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora (With reports of Anadolu Agency/PNA)