Libyan kidnappers still waiting for Egypt to release commander as embassy staffers return home to Cairo
Four of the five kidnapped Egyptians work for Cairo's embassy in Tripoli (Mahmud Turkia/AFP)
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Libyan kidnappers who have took five Egyptian hostage this weekend have urged Egyptian authorities to release a Libyan militia commander immediately in exchange for the kidnapped Egyptians, according to the Associated Press.
A Dubai-based Al Arabiya broadcaster facilitated the message only hours after Egypt announced it was withdrawing its embassy staff from Tripoli.
Egypt's Cultural Attache Al Helali El Sherbini who is one of the kidnapped told Al-Arabiya: "We were taken from our houses," and added, "we are under tough conditions here ... we call upon the Egyptian authorities to end this situation."
Egypt reported late Friday that its administrative attache was kidnapped in Tripoli, and Libya's Foreign Ministry reported that four other Egyptians were subsequently taken hostage early Saturday.
The abductions immediately followed Cairo's announcement that it had arrested Libyan Shaaban Hadiya who is the head commander of the Revolutionaries Operation Room militia. The Libyan government blames Hadiya's group for the kidnapping of the country's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan last year as well.
One of the kidnappers told Al Arabiya that Egypt must let Hadiya speak to them within 30 minutes and release him within 24 hours; otherwise, the kidnapped Egyptian will remain as hostages.
The group has denied, however, that is involved in the kidnapping of the Egyptian diplomats. "We have no relation with the issue," said Operation Room spokesman Adel Al Ghiryani.
According to Egyptian officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, diplomats from the Egyptian embassy and and the military attache have arrived safely in Cairo with their families after being evacuated from Tripoli.