MANILA-- The Philippine government has declared a Crisis Alert Level IV in Tripoli or mandatory repatriation phase "due to increased threats to the safety and security of the more than 1,000 Filipinos who are still there".

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. raised the alert level upon the recommendation of the Philippine embassy in Tripoli which said the current situation on the ground could no longer guarantee the safety and security of Filipinos who chose to remain in the capital.

Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato said the fighting in the outskirts of Tripoli will soon make it difficult for the embassy to respond to urgent requests for assistance from distressed Filipinos.

With the declaration of Alert Level IV, the embassy vowed to double its efforts in persuading Filipinos to go home.

The new alert level, which covers only Tripoli and other areas within a 100-kilometer radius from the capital, was raised after a number of Filipinos suddenly found themselves in the middle of fierce fighting on Monday.

The agency said this was followed by the shelling of several hospitals and residential areas that left at least two Filipinos wounded.

In raising the alert level, Locsin appealed to Filipinos still in Tripoli to seriously consider repatriation before the situation further escalates.

He also requested the help of families in the Philippines in convincing their loved ones in Tripoli to accept the repatriation offer. (PNA)