Seven Iranian relief workers may be freed later on Friday by an armed group that kidnapped them on Tuesday in the heart of Libyan city Benghazi, a Libyan Red Crescent Association official said Friday, IRNA reported.
'We are waiting for their release which can happen any moment now,' Abdel-Hamid el-Madani, who heads the Libyan relief organization's local branch in Benghazi, told Reuters by telephone. He declined to elaborate, though.
The seven Iranian men arrived in Benghazi on Monday as official guests of the Libyan Red Crescent to help with relief work in the city. They were seized from their vehicle by an unknown armed group in the heart Benghazi.
Earlier this month, the president of Libya's Olympic Committee was freed a week after he was taken from his car by gunmen in Tripoli.
The IRIRCS relief workers were invited to Libya by their Libyan counterparts and the seven kidnapped Iranian are entirely relief workers, returning to their hotel after a day of hard work.
Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Hasiba Haj Sahrouie said here Wednesday, "The armed militants are responsible for the lives of these relief workers and must release them immediately and unconditionally."
She added, "They must have permit to have access with the outside world... these seven Iranian Red Crescent Society relief workers were invited to Libya for humanitarian cooperation and their illegal kidnapping by armed militants is worrying."
She reiterated, "This event once again shows the need for controlling by Libyan officials of the armed militants who resort to such mean acts."
The Libyan Red Crescent Society, too, has in a communiqué condemned the kidnapping of their Iranian guests and asked the kidnappers to release the keeping in mind the Iranian nation's support for the Libyan February 17th Revolution, and the Iranian Red Crescent's selfless contributions throughout the process of that revolution.
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 delegation arrived in Libya on Monday at the invitation of the Libyan Red Crescent to discuss 'various co-operation 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.
Libyans rose up against long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi on 17 February 2011 in a popular revolt that escalated into civil war and finally overthrew his regime.
On 7 July, 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 Libya's Olympic chief, Nabil al-Alam, by gunmen in broad daylight in Tripoli. He returned home on 22 July after a week.