London — British sever relations with Libya over embassy siege
Britain broke diplomatic relations with Libya on Sunday and set an April 29 deadline for all Libyan embassy personnel and any other Libyans in the embassy to leave the country, Richard Luce, minister of state in the Foreign Office, announced. No comment from Libya was immediately available.
Mr. Luce said the step was taken because of what he called Libya's ''wholly inadequate response'' to Britain's demands to search the embassy for any evidence related to the killing of a police constable last Tuesday.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government decided to let the gunman believed to be inside the Libyan embassy go free, official sources said Sunday, because forensic clues would by now have disappeared.
Home Secretary Leon Brittan said all Libyans leaving the building would be questioned as to their status and searched for arms and explosives as they came out. He said they would not be allowed to take arms out of the country.
Once the embassy is evacuated, he said, ''police would be entitled, if they have justification for doing so'' to enter the building.
The Foreign Office earlier refused comment on reports that Western intelligence intercepted messages between Tripoli and the London embassy showing that the attack on last week's protest was carried out on Col. Muammar Qaddafi's orders.
These reports have said Col. Qaddafi also told the London staff to follow up the attack with a bombing campaign in Britain.
Police said a timebomb that ripped through a baggage claim hall at London's Heathrow Airport Saturday, injuring 25 people, was similar to devices planted in London last month in a blitz aimed at exile opponents of Qaddafi.
Qaddafi denied Libyan involvement in the blast.