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Tunisian consulate staff kidnapped in Libya

A number of Libyan gunmen stormed the Tunisian consulate in Libya on Friday and kidnapped ten Tunisian employees, the foreign ministry in Tunis has revealed.

“The intrusion of an armed group in the offices of the Tunisian consulate in Tripoli and the detention of ten staff of the mission is a blatant attack on Tunisian national sovereignty,” said a ministry spokesperson. “It is a flagrant violation of international laws and diplomatic norms.”

The Tunisian statement added that the government is following up the issue of the kidnapped employees in cooperation with Libya, regional and international parties. “We hope that all will be released, unharmed, soon.”

Tunisia has advised its citizens not to travel to neighbouring Libya unless there is the “utmost necessity.” Even in such a case, travel should be coordinated with the ministry. At the same time, it called for Tunisian citizens already in Libya to be more cautious in their movements across the country.

It is noteworthy that the information minister in the internationally-recognised government in Libya, Omar Al-Gawairi, threatened last month to expel Tunisian diplomats from Tripoli, which is controlled by a government not recognised by the international community.

“We will soon be in the capital and we will expel all the ambassadors of countries that support and collaborate with terrorists,” said Al-Gawairi in social network remarks reported by Reuters in May. “The people doing so will pay dearly for insulting Libyans by insulting their government.”

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