Egyptian embassy staff kidnapped in Libya

Published January 25th, 2014 - 01:06 GMT

A day after an Egyptian diplomat was seized at the Egyptian embassy in Libya’s capital Tripoli, four staff were kidnapped, the Libyan government said on Saturday.

In what is clear sign of an escalating security threat for foreign diplomats in the country, Libyan authorities have announced that one of the kidnapped embassy staff is the cultural attaché.

“Four more have been kidnapped. One of them is the cultural attaché and the other three are staff,” the Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman said, without going into further details.

On Friday, the Egyptian government said that talks were ongoing to try and secure the release of the first diplomat, an administrative attaché.

Until now, no group has claimed responsibility for any of the abductions, but they came soon after a powerful Libyan militia reported its leader had been arrested in Cairo and threatened to retaliate.

The militia group, the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, said on Friday its leader Shaban Hadia had been arrested in Egypt, where he had been travelling with his family for medical treatment.

A number of foreigners have been abducted and attacked in recent weeks, according to Reuters news agency. Earlier this week, Libyan security forces freed a South Korean trade official who had been held for days by kidnappers who authorities said were not politically motivated.

Another of the group’s leaders, Adel al-Gharyani, denied it had kidnapped the first Egyptian diplomat. But he called on Egyptian authorities to release their commander or there would be a “strong response” from the group, according to Reuters,

Two years after Muammar Qaddafi’s fall, Libya is still in flux with the government struggling to control heavily-armed former rebels, militias and Islamist militants who fought in the uprising but often challenge Tripoli’s authority.


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