Tunisia agrees to hand over Islamist leader to Libya

2015-06-18 14:44
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Tunis - Tunisia has agreed to hand over an imprisoned leading Islamist to Libya, Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche said on Thursday, in a move that seems aimed at securing the release of Tunisians abducted in Tripoli.

"The Tripoli government has presented a request for the handover of the prisoner Walid Kalib under a judicial agreement between the two countries. This request has got an initial approval," Baccouche said without giving details.

Last month, Tunisian authorities arrested Kalib, a leader in the Islamist militia Fajr Libya (Libya's Dawn), on terrorism-related charges.

Fajr Libya is active in Tripoli, the base of one of two rival Libyan governments, which have been locked for months in a violent power struggle.

Diplomatic presence

The second elected government is based in Libya's far eastern city of Tobruk.

Last week, gunmen stormed the Tunisian consulate in Tripoli and abducted 10 employees, reportedly in retaliation for Kalib's detention.  

Three of the 10 were freed on Monday. The rest are expected to be released in exchange for Kalib, Tunisian media reported.

"We cannot give details now, but there is a possibility of a breakthrough in the situation at any moment," the spokesperson for the Tunisian Foreign Ministry, Mokhtar al-Shawashi, told dpa.

Tunisia is one of the few countries still with a diplomatic presence in neighbouring Libya, which in recent months experienced its worst violence since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The oil-rich country has since seen a proliferation of rival armed militias, including the Islamic State extremist group.

Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

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