Libyan kidnappers release Egypt diplomats
Gunmen grabbed five Egyptian diplomatic staff from their homes in Tripoli within 24 hours
The five abducted Egyptian diplomats by Libyan former rebels were released late Sunday, one of the kidnappers told Al Arabiya News Channel.
Later the Libyan foreign ministry confirmed that the Egyptian diplomats were freed.
The release took place after Libya was in talks with Egypt to resolve the hostage crisis after gunmen kidnapped the diplomats in Tripoli in retaliation for Egypt’s arrest of a top Libyan militia commander, Shaban Hadiya.
One of the kidnappers said they agreed to release the diplomats with “good intentions,” and admitted “responsibility,” acknowledging what they did “was wrong.”
“They [Egypt] can make sure by calling the Libyan interior ministry,” he said.
“The Egyptian government asked us to release the diplomats, then they will release him [Hadiya],” the kidnapper added.
Hadiya also known as Abu Obeida, was not released by Egypt.
The kidnapper defended Hadiya when he rejected accusations that the militia commander belonged to al-Qaeda extremist group.
“Abu Obeida is a Salafist and not part of al-Qaeda.”
Asked to explain the reason behind his arrest, he was unable to give a clear answer but insisted that Hadiya was innocent.
He also rejected widely circulated claims that his group was behind briefly abduction of Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Tripoli in October of last year.
Kidnapped within 24 hours
The Libyan rebel group grabbed five diplomatic staff from their homes in the Libyan capital within 24 hours, including the cultural attaché, on Friday.
Kidnappers on Saturday called Al Arabiya News Channel, demanding Hadiya’s release in 24 hours and put one of the Egyptian diplomats on the line to plead with their government to meet the demands.
Hadiya commands the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, a powerful militia, which denied it was involved in the Egyptian kidnappings.
The abduction of five diplomats in the Libyan capital illustrated the fragility of government control over former rebels and militias who two years ago helped topple Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed revolution.
Heavily armed ex-fighters, militiamen and Islamist militants who battled Qaddafi forces have refused to disarm and often remain more loyal to their brigades, tribal leaders or local regions than to the new Libyan government.
The Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries is nominally under the control of chief of staff to work with the armed forces, but the militia has before used military muscle to make political demands on the state.
Operations Room commanders denied any involvement in the diplomat abductions. But on Friday, they had warned of a response if Hadiya were not released.
The group said he was arrested visiting Egypt with family for medical treatment.
Egypt’s ambassador to Libya and other diplomats and their families arrived on Saturday back in Cairo after the government evacuated the embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi as a precautionary measure.