U.K. Expels Libyan Envoy as UN Readies to Pull Out of Tripoli

Expulsion of Libyan envoy comes following reports of attacks against British, Italian embassies in Tripoli in wake of a NATO strike which reportedly killed one of Gadhafi's sons.

News Agencies
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The British government said on Sunday that it is expelling the Libyan ambassador after the British embassy in Tripoli was attacked in wake of a NATO attack which reportedly killed one of the sons of Libyan Leader Muammar Gadhafi.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement Sunday that he condemns the attacks on the embassy premises in Tripoli, as well attacks on the diplomatic missions of other countries. He said the attacks have prompted him to expel the ambassador, who now has 24 hours to leave the country.

Protesters chant anti-US slogans in front of the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, May 1, 2011.Credit: AP

"The attacks on the diplomatic missions breach the Vienna Convention," Hague added.

Hague's announcement came as, also on Sunday, Italy condemned an attack on its embassy in Tripoli as a "grave and vile" act and said Muammar Gaddafi's government had failed to carry out its most elementary international obligations.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement after the Italian embassy in the Libyan capital was vandalized. A spokesman said there were no further details but a witness said smoke was rising from the building.

In another apparent consequence of NATO's attack of Gadhafi's Tripoli compound, UN international staff in Tripoli are preparing to leave because of unrest in the
Libyan capital, a UN spokeswoman said.

"The UN is preparing to leave Tripoli," said Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "Apparently there was unrest in Tripoli and they've decided to leave the city."

Bunker had no further details on the reason for the decision, but demonstrators attacked the British and Italian embassies in Tripoli after Libya said a NATO airstrike on Saturday killed a son and three grandchildren of leader Muammar Gadhafi. The BBC said UN offices were also attacked.

Bunker said the decision did not affect local UN staff. The United Nations sent international staff to Tripoli only last month after OCHA chief Valerie Amos reached an agreement with the Libyan government on a humanitarian presence.

Bunker said she understood there were eight of them and noted that under the agreement reached by Amos the Libyan government had promised to protect U.N. staff.

The world body also has international staff in Benghazi, the principal city in the rebel-controlled eastern part of Libya. They were not affected by the decision, Bunker said.

The reported attacks on the British and Italian embassies in Tripoli came after a NATO airstrike overnight that are said to have taken the lives of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's son and grandchildren.

Britain said, however, that it cannot confirm reports of Saif Gadhafi's death, junior Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said Sunday.

Libyan officials denounced the NATO attack as a crime and violation of international law. However, British Prime Minister David Cameron, without confirming fatalities, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the strike was in line with a United Nations mandate to prevent a loss of civilian life by targeting Gadhafi's war-making machine.

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