Police storm Libyan embassy in Bulgarian capital

SOFIA Fri Sep 2, 2011 4:10pm EDT

1 of 2. Bulgarian police officers stand outside the Libyan embassy in Sofia September 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Hristo Rahnev

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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian police stormed the Libyan embassy in Sofia Friday and forced out diplomats of Muammar Gaddafi's regime after a new ambassador appointed by Libya's interim authority arrived in the Balkan country, the foreign ministry said.

Bulgaria, which has recognized the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate authority in the north African country, declared four Libyan diplomats persona non grata and sought their expulsion Thursday.

"The diplomats and their families refused to leave and the police had to take them from the premises," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said. "They were taken to a police station and after that probably to the refugee agency awaiting their expulsion."

She declined to say how many diplomats were taken forcibly out of the building. The private BTV channel said special police forces took out the wife and children of the former Libyan consul and another staff member.

Police declined to comment on the operation.

In July, Bulgaria sought the expulsion of the consul, Ibrahim al-Furis, who stormed the Libyan embassy, saying he had joined the rebel forces -- a claim which had been denied by NTC.

A new Libyan ambassador, appointed by the NTC, arrived in Sofia earlier Friday, the spokeswoman said, and was waiting to be granted access to the embassy.

The new envoy has yet to present his credentials and receive official diplomatic accreditation.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Rosalind Russell)

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