Tunisian envoy kidnapped in Libya's Tripoli in latest diplomatic abduction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 4:48am

Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped a Tunisian diplomat in Tripoli, the latest in a string of diplomatic abductions in the Libyan capital this year.

Three years after a revolt toppled Muammar Gaddafi, the North African country is struggling to ensure security in the face of brigades of former rebels, Islamist militants and former fighters who refuse to disarm.

"A Tunisian diplomat was kidnapped in Tripoli, the Tunisian ambassador told me that his car was found empty," Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi said. The minister urged Libyan authorities to protect members of its diplomatic mission.

In January, five Egyptian diplomats were briefly kidnapped in Tripoli in what security officials said was retaliation for Egypt's arrest of a Libyan militia chief. They were later freed and Egypt released the militia commander.

A South Korean trade official was also kidnapped the same month as he left his office in Tripoli. He was freed days later by security forces, and Libyan officials said it was not a politically motivated abduction.

Foreigners have been targeted in attacks over recent months though motives were unclear. An American teacher was shot dead in Benghazi in December and in January, a British man and a New Zealand woman were shot execution-style on a beach in western Libya.