Egypt evacuates embassy, consulate staff in Libya

Kidnappers want Cairo to release a rebel leader called Sheikh Shaaban Hadiya in order to release the Egyptian diplomats

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Egypt has evacuated its staff from its embassy in the Libyan capital and the consulate in Benghazi city after kidnappers seized Egypt’s cultural attaché and three other embassy diplomats, an official told Al Arabiya News Channel Saturday.

Spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry Badr Abed al-Ati said “formal relations [between Egypt and Libya] are continuing, but the staff was evacuated from Egypt’s embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi as temporary security measure.”

Ati said Hadiya, who was arrested in Egypt on Friday, will be released only investigations prove that he wasn’t involved in any criminal offence.

A spokesperson for the kidnappers demanded in a direct call with Al Arabiya News Channel for the release of Hadiya, also known as Sheikh Abou Obaida.

One of the kidnappers identified himself as “one of Libya’s rebels,” and confirmed that “the diplomats will not be released unless Abou Obaida is released.”

Hadiya is considered one of the prominent rebels fighting embattled President Muammar Qaddafi’s regime until the leader was toppled in late 2011.

In another call, one of the Egyptian hostages said that “he wants the Egyptian leadership to intervene and solve the issue by responding to the demands of the Libyan kidnappers.”

One of the diplomats said they were kidnapped when armed men stormed their homes and took them to an unknown area, describing the situation as rude and inappropriate. The diplomat stressed on the importance of coordination between Cairo and Tripoli in order to solve this issue.

Libya’s foreign minister condemned the kidnapping.

Sources had announced earlier that the cultural and commercial attaches at the Egyptian embassy in Libya along with three other employees were kidnapped, in addition to kidnapping the administrative attaché on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Libyan parliament condemned the arrest of Hadiya and urged Tripoli and the Libyan ambassador to Cairo to mediate closely with the Egyptian authorities in order to release him.

The parliament called on the Egyptian authorities to inform the Libyans of the reasons of the arrest.

The kidnappers said Hadiya was kidnapped without a reason.

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