Tunisia presses Libya to help free 14 kidnapped workers

February 17, 2019 - 1:38 pm

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia pressed Libya over the weekend to help free 14 Tunisian workers who were kidnapped by an armed group near Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemais Jhinaoui met with his Libyan counterpart and stressed "the need to accelerate" efforts to free his countrymen, the Foreign Ministry said in statement.

Jhinaoui met Saturday with Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Tahar Siala on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, the Tunisian statement said. The Libyan minister stressed his country was working to get the Tunisians freed, according to the statement.

Details on who was holding the Tunisian workers were not made public.

The 14 were abducted Thursday morning on the outskirts of Zawiva, a city in western Libya.

The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya said late Saturday that the Tunisians were abducted while on their way to work at an oil refinery in Zawiva.

It said the armed group, which it did not name, demanded the release of a Libyan man, also unnamed, who was detained in Tunisia on drug-related charges.

In 2015, an armed militia stormed the Tunisian Consulate in Tripoli and took 10 staff members hostage.

Libya slid into chaos after a 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi. The country is currently governed by militia-backed rival authorities in Tripoli and the east.

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