Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan has been abducted by gunmen early Thursday Morning from a Tripoli hotel where he resides.
Government officials have confirmed that the 62-year-old was snatched from the Corinthia Hotel along with two of his guards, and “taken to an unknown destination for an unknown reason”.
A government official who spoke to the Associated Press (AP) on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said the gunmen broke into the luxury hotel in downtown Tripoli where Zidan lives and abducted him and two of his guards who were beaten but later released.
The government’s official website said Zidan was taken at dawn to an “unknown location for unknown reasons” by a group believed to be “revolutionaries” from a security agency known as the Anti-Crime Committee.
However, the abduction appears to be in retaliation for the U.S. special forces’ raid on Saturday that seized a Libyan al-Qaida suspect from the streets of the capital.
The militants were angered by the capture of the suspected militant known as Abu Anas al-Libi, and accused the government of colluding in or allowing the raid.
A spokesman for the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, a group of former rebels, claimed responsibility for Zeidan’s abduction and blamed the U.S. operation which captured suspected terrorist al-Liby.
Meanwhile, Abdel-Moneim al-Hour, an official with the Anti-Crime Committee, told the AP that Zidan had been “arrested” on accusations of harming state security and corruption, but the public prosecutor’s office said it had issued no warrant for Zidan’s arrest.
On Tuesday, Zidan said the Libyan government had requested that Washington allow al-Libi’s family to establish contact with him.
Zidan insisted that Libyan citizens should be tried in their homeland if they are accused of crimes, stressing that “Libya does not surrender its sons.”
Al-Libi is alleged to be a senior al-Qaida member and is wanted by the United States in connection with the bombing of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, with a $5 million bounty on his head.
Immediately after the raid, the Libyan government issued a statement saying it was carried out without its knowledge and asked Washington for “clarifications” about the operation.
“The U.S. was very helpful to Libya during the revolution and the relations should not be affected by an incident, even if it is a serious one,” Zidan said at a press conference in Tripoli.
U.S. officials said al-Libi was immediately taken out of the country and is now being held on a U.S. warship.