Gunmen seize Libyan PM Zeidan from a hotel in Tripoli
The rebel group claims that the premier is “arrested as per the orders of public prosecutor”
Tripoli: Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped from a hotel here at dawn today by an armed group and taken to an unknown location, the government 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.
It is the latest sign of the lawlessness sweeping Libya since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011. The pre-dawn abduction comes five days after US commandos embarrassed and angered Libya’s government by capturing senior Al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi off the streets of Tripoli and whisking him away to a warship.
“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 premier’s office said Zeidan had been taken from Tripoli’s Corinthia Hotel, where he resides.
On the condition of anonymity, a hotel employee said, “A large number of armed men entered the place very early on Thursday. But we did not know what was happening,” he said.
A group of former rebels, which had roundly denounced Libi’s abduction and blamed Zeidan’s government for it, said it had “arrested” Zeidan.
The Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries, which in principle reports to the defense and interior ministries, said on Facebook that it had seized Zeidan “on the prosecutor’s orders.”
The group said that the premier “was arrested under the Libyan penal code on the instructions of the public prosecutor, it said.
It also said that he was detained for “crimes and offences prejudicial to the state” and its security. The cabinet said on its Facebook page that ministers were “unaware of immunity being lifted or of any arrest warrant” for the prime minister.
The Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries had expressed outrage at the brazen daylight raid by US commandos to capture Libi. It said on Tuesday it had told its fighters to be prepared for orders to “hunt down and expel foreigners who are illegally in the country”.
Today’s government statement said it suspected two groups of ex-rebels, the Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries and the Brigade for the Fight against Crime, 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.
Zeidan, who was named prime minister a year ago, had on Tuesday condemned the US raid and insisted that all Libyans should be tried on home soil.