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Egypt evacuates diplomats from Libya after abductions

Egypt has evacuated its Egyptian embassy staff in Tripoli and Benghazi consulate in Libya after five Egyptian diplomats, including the administrative attaché Hamdi Ghanem and the cultural attache Hilali Sherbini, had been kidnapped by an armed group on Friday and Saturday.

The abduction is believed to be in retaliation for the arrest of Shaaban Hadiya – also known as Abu Obaida al-Zawy – the Egypt-based commander of the Libyan Revolution Operations Room.

The Egyptian authorities arrested Hadiya in Alexandria on Friday on charges of links to Al- Qaeda.

The spokesman of the Libyan Foreign Ministry, Saeid al Aswad said: “the Libyan authorities are not aware of the motives behind the kidnapping, but they have intensified their investigations to find out”.

Al Shorouk newspaper learned from diplomatic sources that “the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s decision to evacuate the diplomats from Libya came as a result of the deteriorating security situation and the Libyan authorities’ inability to secure the embassy when the kidnappers seized the embassy.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ambassador Badr Abdel-Atti said the Ministry has set up an operations room to coordinate with the concerned Libyan authorities to follow up with the situation and that interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawy has contacted his Libyan counterpart Ali Zeidan.

Abdel-Atti said Zeidan stressed that his country condemns the abduction and that the Libyan authorities are working relentlessly to secure the hostages’ lives and to secure the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli and the Consulate in Benghazi.

Meanwhile, Libya’s Minister of Justice Salah Mergheny said during a press conference on Saturday that “the abductors have committed a mistake and shamed themselves and the Libyan people” and demanded them to “immediately release the kidnapped diplomats or face criminal charges”.

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