Libyan activists storm Manila embassy

Libyan rebels tried to evict diplomats they suspect remain loyal to ousted dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

Manila: Two young Libyans barged into their embassy in the Philippine capital Thursday to try to evict diplomats they suspect remain loyal to ousted dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

The journalists saw the men scale the embassy`s steel gate and scuffle with guards. They broke open a wooden door and while yelling at the top of their voice, tried to look for two of four Libyan diplomats inside they accused of remaining loyal to Gaddafi.

"We are Libyans, this is our embassy," Elyosa Fathi Elgardag, a former student in the Philippines, said before storming the compound in front of several Filipino guards.

Several of his Libyan companions were barred from entering the upscale village, Elgardag said. A crowd-control team stood by in case Libyan protesters managed to get near the embassy.

Last month, Libyan diplomats in Manila raised the flag of the interim rebel government, the National Transitional Council, as Tripoli`s diplomatic missions across the world defected from Gaddafi, underscoring his rapid fall after nearly 42 years in power.

The ecstatic, young Libyans rampaged through the embassy compound in August, smashing Gaddafi`s glass-covered portraits, shouting "Die Gaddafi, die!" and ripping his "Green Book," which contains his ruling philosophy.

But Elgardag said the Libyan diplomats in Manila were under pressure to switch sides after he and other Libyans based in the Philippines forced them to defect.

Elgardag`s companion, a student who did not give his name, said the embassy failed to arrange for the continuation of financial aid to Libyan students abroad, making their lives miserable. He said they were barred from entering the embassy and were left with no choice but to storm it.

The diplomats inside the building did not immediately respond to a request for comment and the two intruders were still inside Thursday afternoon.

Elgardag said that despite Gaddafi`s ouster, the Libyan people should remain vigilant and ensure that succeeding leaders stomp out problems like massive corruption.

"It`s not yet over," he said, adding that the Libyan revolt should "move all the corruption from the country. It`s not just to move the president."

The Philippines in August recognized the opposition-led interim government in Libya after initial reluctance over concerns for safety of 1,700 Filipino workers, mostly nurses, still in the country.

Gaddafi used to bankroll Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines but later brokered a historic 1976 peace accord between the main Muslim group and the Philippine government.

Libya also reportedly paid millions of dollars in ransom for the release of Western hostages held by the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in 2000.

Bureau Report

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