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Iran pursuing fate of abducted nationals in Libya

Iran Materials 1 August 2012 22:50
Deputy Foreign Minister for Parliamentary and Consular Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Wednesday that Iran is pursuing the case of the abduction of an Iranian delegation in Libya.
Iran pursuing fate of abducted nationals in Libya

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Parliamentary and Consular Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Wednesday that Iran is pursuing the case of the abduction of an Iranian delegation in Libya.
"We have instructed our country's embassy in Libya to pursue the issue as immediately as possible," Qashqavi told the Mehr News Agency.

"We hope that the release of these people will be obtained through the follow-up of the Iranian embassy and the cooperation of Libyan officials," he said.

The Libyan Red Crescent said on Tuesday that armed men had kidnapped a seven-member delegation from the Iranian Red Crescent Society visiting the eastern city of Benghazi, Al Jazeera reported.

"An armed group detained at 1:00 a.m. a delegation of seven members of the Iranian Red Crescent after they left the headquarters of the Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi," a statement from the organization said.

The Iranians were heading to the Tibesti hotel when an armed group intercepted them. They were loaded into a different car and whisked away to an unknown location, the statement added.

The driver of the vehicle, a local volunteer, was not taken.

The delegation arrived in Libya on Monday at the invitation of the Libyan Red Crescent to discuss "various cooperation prospects in the field of humanitarian aid."

"The Libyan Red Crescent implores the group who detained the delegation to set them free in appreciation of the aid and support given by the Iranian Red Crescent during the February 17 revolution," the statement said.

Wanis al-Sharif, the Libyan deputy interior minister responsible for eastern Libya, has said that the abductees are in good health.

He also stated that the kidnappers have demanded that Iranian officials take action to obtain the release of tens of Libyan nationals being held in Iraqi prisons in return for the release of the abductees.

Libyans rose up against long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi on February 17, 2011 in a popular revolt that escalated into civil war and finally overthrew his regime.

On July 7, the country held elections for a legislative assembly, in what was hailed by international observers as a watershed moment in the country's path to democracy.

But rights groups have continued to express concern over arbitrary arrests and secret detention centers run by militias made up of former anti-Gaddafi rebels.

This month also saw the kidnapping of Nabil al-Alam, Libya's Olympic chief, by gunmen in broad daylight in Tripoli. He returned home on July 22 after a week in captivity.

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