NEW DELHI: Seven Indian nationals who were abducted in Libya last month have been released, the Indian government said in an official statement. The release came about on Sunday, nearly a month after they were kidnapped on their way to the Tripoli airport to catch a flight to India.
On September 14, seven nationals from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, were kidnapped from an Asshwerif area in Libya. They were working for a construction and oil field supplies company.
The kidnappers had contacted their employer and shown photographs as proof that the Indian nationals were safe.
A mostly desert and oil-rich country, Libya slid into chaos and political instability following the toppling of the long-term military ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since 2014, the country has been divided by the competing rival factions based in Tripoli and the east. The globally banned terror group, Islamic State (ISIS) captured several coastal cities which it held till 2017 but now is confined to the interior parts of the desert.
In September 2015, an advisory was issued by the Indian government for its nationals to avoid travelling to Libya in view of its volatile security situation. Later, in May 2016, the government imposed a complete travel ban irrespective of the purpose in view of the much deteriorated security scenario in Libya. The travel ban is still in force.
The External Affairs Ministry in a statement on Monday said that that the Indian Ambassador to Tunisia Puneet Roy Kundal spoke to the seven Indian nationals over phone after they were handed over by the abductors to the company Al Shola Al Mudia.
“All of them are in good health and are currently staying in the company’s premises in Brega. We are trying to complete requisite formalities to enable their return to India,” the MEA said.
The government thanked the Libyan authorities and the tribal elders from the region for their steadfast cooperation in securing the release of Indian nationals unharmed. “Both our Ambassador to Tunisia and our local consular staff were in constant touch with them and the company all through the crisis,” the statement said.
The ministry reiterated that there is a ban on travel of Indian nationals to Libya, irrespective of the purpose, since May 2016 because of the security situation there.