Abducted Libyan premier freed
Posted Friday, October 11 2013 at 01:00
Tripoli- Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been released hours after being seized by militiamen, government sources said.
A former rebel group loosely allied to the government, the Revolutionaries Operations Room, said it had arrested Mr Zeidan on the orders of the prosecutor general.
The justice ministry had denied this. The militia was one of several groups angered by a US commando raid on Libyan soil on Saturday which seized senior al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Liby.
Earlier British Foreign Secretary William Hague had called for the immediate release of Mr Zeidan who was seized by gunmen from a hotel in Tripoli.
“I condemn the abduction of the Libyan prime minister in Tripoli this morning and call for his immediate release,” Mr Hague said in a statement.
Britain’s ambassador to Libya is in contact with the transitional government that took charge in Libya following the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Mr Hague added.
“It is vital that the process of political transition in Libya is maintained,” he said. Mr Zeidan was kidnapped from his Tripoli hotel at dawn yesterday by armed men and taken to an unknown location, the government and sources said.
The abduction comes five days after US commandos embarrassed and angered Libya’s government by capturing senior Al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi off the streets of Tripoli and whisked him away to a warship.
“The head of the transitional government, Ali Zeidan, was taken to an unknown destination for unknown reasons by a group of men believed to be former rebels,” the government said in a brief statement on its website.
Zeidan, who was named prime minister a year ago, had on Tuesday condemned the US raid and insisted that all Libyans should be tried on home soil. Contacted by AFP, Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani confirmed the information but gave no further details.
Suspected rebel activity
Two years after the revolution that toppled Gadhafi, the country’s new authorities are struggling to rein in tribal militias and groups of former rebels who spearheaded the uprising.
The government statement said it suspected two groups of ex-rebels, the Chamber of Revolutionaries and the Brigade for the Fight against Crime, which in principle fall under the defence and interior ministries, of being behind the abduction.
The cabinet and the General National Congress, Libya’s top political authority, were dealing with the situation, the statement said, while calling on citizens to remain calm.
US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki, travelling with Secretary of State John Kerry in Brunei, said yesterday Washington was seeking more information.
“We are looking into these reports and we are in close touch with senior US and Libyan officials on the ground,” she told reporters.