'Kidnapped' Libya mayor released: official

2018-03-30 12:11
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The mayor of Libya's capital Tripoli was released on Thursday after being held in detention in confused circumstances, the city council said.

Earlier, prosecutors said he had been arrested and interrogated. The council, however, reported he had been kidnapped.

Armed men stormed Abdulraouf Hassan Beitelmal's house on Wednesday night and took him "by force of arms", the city council had said in a statement.

But Seddik al-Sour, a senior prosecution official, said Beitelmal was "subject to legal procedures" and was being questioned by investigators.

A source in the security services told AFP the mayor had been detained over suspected corruption.

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A member of the city council told AFP that the mayor had not received a court summons.

The city council announced that Beitelmal's office was suspending all its activities in protest at his "kidnapping".

It later issued a statement slamming "an attempt to confuse the truth about the kidnapping and deceive public opinion", and said two of his children had been "assaulted" as he was being detained.

The council said later on Thursday in a brief statement that he had been released.

Initial news of Beitelmal's claimed kidnapping had prompted condemnation from foreign diplomats.

The United Nations mission in Libya warned of a "surge in kidnapping & abduction cases in the city".

The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gaddafi .

Two authorities - the Tripoli-based unity government and a rival administration in the east - are vying for control of Libya.

But security has improved in Tripoli since last summer, when militias allied with the unity government drove their rivals from the capital after deadly clashes.

Kidnappings, however, remain frequent.

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa
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