Gunmen briefly abduct Libyan PM

The short-lived kidnapping was an ominous sign for the stability of Libya’s transitional government.

Written by New York Times | Cairo | Published: October 11, 2013 5:56 am

David D Kirkpatrick,Gerry Mullany

Libya’s prime minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped from a hotel in the capital,Tripoli,Thursday and briefly held in an apparent act of retaliation for his presumed consent to the capture of a suspected Qaeda leader by an American commando team.

He was seized before dawn and freed by early afternoon,according to Amal al-Jarrari,a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office,who could not immediately provide details.

The short-lived kidnapping was an ominous sign for the stability of Libya’s transitional government and its cooperation with American counter-terrorist efforts. Zeidan’s abductors are members of one of the semi-autonomous militias that serve as his government’s primary police and security force,according to statements from the PMO and a coalition of militia leaders.

A spokesman for the coalition,which calls itself the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries,said the prime minister’s “arrest” came after a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry that “the Libyan government was aware of the operation” that captured the suspected Qaeda leader,Reuters reported.

The government said it had no warning or knowledge of the raid Saturday in which Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai,the suspected Qaeda leader,was captured. The government demanded an explanation for what it called “the kidnapping of a Libyan citizen”.

Zeidan,62,was seized at the Corinthian,a heavily guarded luxury hotel that he and other government leaders use as a residence and a meeting place,reportedly without a gunfight or resistance.

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