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Libya: PM Zeidan freed after kidnapping by militia - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An image from Al-Arabiya showing Libyan PM Ali Zeidan surrounded by men at an unidentified location on October 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Al Arabiya via Reuters)

An image from Al-Arabiya showing Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan surrounded by men at an unidentified location on October 10, 2013. (REUTERS/Al Arabiya via Reuters)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has reportedly been freed after being seized by a militia group claiming to be carrying out an arrest warrant issued by Libya’s prosecutor-general in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Zeidan was taken from the Corinthian Hotel in Tripoli at 4 am on Thursday morning by members of a group known as the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, according to news reports.

Libyan state news agency LANA reported that the group said Zeidan was being detained for endangering state security, though the Libyan Ministry of Justice denied that an arrest warrant has been issued for the prime minister.

The group has since issued a denial that it was involved in the incident.

Speaking on Libyan television, the head of Tripoli’s security committee, Hashim Bishar, said Zeidan had been released by members of a government-backed militia.

He said: “Our revolutionaries went to the place where he was being detained and demanded he be handed over. He was handed over; now he is safe.”

News of Zeidan’s capture promoted speculation that he had been taken in retaliation for the seizure of Abu Anas Al-Liby by US Army special forces and FBI agents on Saturday, leading some Libyans to accuse the US of violating their national sovereignty.

Liby, who is accused of involvement in Al-Qaeda’s bombing of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998, was taken from outside his home in Tripoli and flown to a US Navy ship in the Mediterranean for interrogation.

Although the Libyan government denies it was involved, reports in the New York Times say it was informed by the US of the operation, while a Libyan source also told Asharq Al-Awsat this week that Libyan officials had approved the operation.

Zeidan’s detention is the latest in a long series of incidents of militia violence in Libya. Since the downfall of Gaddafi in 2011, the government has struggled to rebuild Libya’s security forces, and has been forced to rely on a network of militia groups whose professionalism and loyalty to the central government is often questionable.

Earlier this week, Zeidan’s office was occupied by government-affiliated militiamen, claiming that they were owed back pay by the government. Militias have also occupied government buildings and ministries in order to force political changes.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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