Gunmen kidnap 7 Iranians in Libya

2012-08-01 08:58

Tripoli - Gunmen kidnapped on Tuesday a seven-member delegation from the Iranian Red Crescent visiting the eastern city of Benghazi, the Libyan Red Crescent reported.

"An armed group detained at 01:00 a delegation of seven members of the Iranian Red Crescent after they left the headquarters of the Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi," a statement 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 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 centres 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.