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Philippines renews calls for nationals to leave Libya

The Philippines renewed calls for thousands of its nationals to leave Libya on Thursday after a Filipino nurse was abducted and gang-raped, following the beheading of a Filipino construction worker.

MANILA: The Philippines renewed calls for thousands of its nationals to leave Libya on Thursday after a Filipino nurse was abducted and gang-raped, following the beheading of a Filipino construction worker.

The foreign department said all 13,000 Filipinos there were to be repatriated as clashes between rival militias threaten to tear the country apart three years after Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi was toppled. 

"We reiterate our call to our remaining nationals in Libya to immediately get in touch with the Philippine embassy in Tripoli and register for repatriation," said a fresh foreign department advisory issued on Thursday.

The call came as the ministry confirmed reports that a Filipino nurse was abducted and gang-raped there on Wednesday. The woman was seized outside her residence and taken to an unknown location, where she was sexually assaulted by up to six youths, foreign department spokesman Charles Jose told reporters. She was released about two hours later and a Filipino consular team took her to hospital for treatment, he added.

The Philippines ordered its nationals out of Libya on July 20, the same day the beheaded remains of a Filipino construction worker were found at a hospital in the port of Benghazi. The man was abducted by suspected militants on July 15. According to Jose, the man was apparently singled out because he was not a Muslim.

The department said a consular team has stayed behind in Tripoli despite the precarious security situation to coordinate the evacuation of Filipinos by land to Tunisia and Egypt where they will eventually be flown home. It has also barred its nationals from travelling to Libya.

About 10 million Filipinos live and work abroad, many of them in the Middle East, in search of better-paying jobs. The Philippines has also ordered about 100 Filipinos living in Gaza to leave the besieged Palestinian territory as Israel presses its offensive against Hamas militants.

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