Thursday, October 10, 2013

Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan kidnapped by rebels

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan  ... has reportedly been kidnapped by rebels.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan ... has reportedly been kidnapped by rebels. Photo: AFP

Dubai: Armed men have kidnapped Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from a luxury hotel in Tripoli where he resides, according to a government official.

The confirmation came after Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia quoted Libyan security sources as saying that Zeidan was seized from the Corinthia hotel and taken to an unknown destination. Dubai-based al-Arabiya carried a similar report.

Earlier this week, Zeidan had called on the West to help stop militancy in Libya. 

The abduction early on Thursday comes amid anger among Libya's powerful Islamic militant groups over the US special forces raid on Saturday that seized a Libyan al-Qaeda suspect, known as Abu Anas al-Libi. Several groups accused the government of colluding in or allowing the raid, though the government denied having any prior knowledge of the operation.

Hours before the abduction, Zeidan had met with al-Libi's family late Wednesday. The government official said gunmen broke into the luxury hotel where Zeidan lived and abducted him and two of his guards.

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Hashem Beshr, head of the Supreme Security Committee for Tripoli confirmed the prime minister had been taken. ''Zeidan is still with them,'' Beshr said in a phone interview.

He said the group, called the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room, was loosely affiliated with the country's Interior Ministry and took Zeidan from the hotel because of ''erroneous'' information that an arrest warrant had been issued for the prime minister.

Libya's government, on its official Facebook page, said Zeidan was taken at dawn ''to an unknown destination for unknown reasons by a group believed to be the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room and the Crime Combating Committee.''

An emergency Cabinet meeting has been called, according to the Facebook statement.

Earlier this week, Zeidan had called on the West to help stop militancy in Libya.

Intra-militia violence has plagued Libya ever since the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. It has intensified in recent months with groups refusing to heed government calls to disband, threatening local officials and storming government buildings. A senior aide to Zeidan, Mohammed Ghatus, was kidnapped in March.

Reuters, Bloomberg


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