10:39 pm - Monday December 11, 2017

Libyan PM Ali Zeidan abducted from Tripoli hotel by rebels, taken to unknown location

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Libyan PM Ali Zeidan abducted from Tripoli hotel by rebels, taken to unknown location
Libyan PM Ali Zeidan abducted from Tripoli hotel by rebels, taken to unknown location

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was abducted from his Tripoli hotel at dawn on Thursday by an armed group and taken to an unknown location, the government and sources said. “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.

A source in the prime minister’s office said Zeidan had been abducted from Tripoli’s Corinthia hotel, where he resides.

The rebels escorted the PM from the Corinthian Hotel in Tripoli to a convoy of waiting cars, said a hotel clerk.

No gunfire was reported during the incident. The witness said the gunmen were respectful and “caused no trouble.”

One guard described it as an “arrest”, reported Reuters, though circumstances were unclear.

The abduction comes five days after US commandos seized senior al Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Libi — indicted for the twin 1998 bombings of US embassies in east Africa — off the streets of Tripoli and whisked him away to a warship.

The government 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.

Saturday’s raid by US commandos in Tripoli has embarrassed and put the Libyan government under pressure from its critics — in particular some former rebel groups in the 2011 revolt that ousted and killed dictator Muammer Gaddafi.

Two years after a revolution toppled Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan government has been struggling to contain rival tribal militias and Islamist militants who control parts of the country.

CNN said Zeidan’s office initially called the abduction a “rumour” on its official Facebook page. Later, the page posted a note saying the office was “coerced by kidnappers to deny the report.”

The 62-year-old was appointed PM by the General National Congress, the legislative authority of Libya, on October 14, 2012 and took office on November 14.

Zeidan has also served as a diplomat for Libya during the 1970s in India.

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