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Four Indians kidnapped in Libya by ISIS, two released

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New Delhi/Hyderabad: Four Indian nationals were abducted in Sirte in Libya where the Islamic State group holds sway. Two men were released on Friday, the government said.

Image by Guardian
Image by Guardian

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “Four Indians abducted in Libya – I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two.”

Of the two men released, one belongs to Raichur and the other to Bengaluru, said officials.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: “Welcome news from Libya. 2 of the 4 detained Indians brought back safely to University of Sirte. Our efforts continue for the remaining two.”

Earlier, Swarup said the Indian mission in Tripoli came to know at 11 p.m. on July 29 that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis were “detained” at a check point, 50 km from Sirte.

In a statement, he said two of them are from Hyderabad and one from Raichur and one from Bengaluru.

Three were faculty members at the University of Sirte and one was working at the Sirte University branch at Jufra, he said.

The Islamic State is suspected to have carried out the kidnapping.

The Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments on Friday said they were making all efforts to seek the safe and early release of two men from the state who were among the four Indians kidnapped.

Andhra Pradesh NRI Affairs Minister Palle Raghunath Reddy said the state government was making efforts with the help of the Indian government and Libya to secure release of Balram, a native of Srikakulam district in north coastal Andhra.

One of them, Gopikrishna, is from Hyderabad. Balram is from neighbouring Andhra.

Family members of Gopikrishna said they had no information whether the four were kidnapped by ISIS or some other group.

Relatives and friends of Gopikrishna gathered at their residence in Nacharam in Hyderabad after learning about the kidnapping.

Gopikrishna has been working as an assistant professor at University of Sirte since 2007. According to family members, he has been coming home on leave every year for 45 to 50 days.

Kalyani, wife of Gopikrishna, said he spoke to her on Wednesday over phone and informed that he was coming home via Tunis. He also told her not to worry as his mobile phone will be switched off during the two-and-half hour long journey from the university to Tripoli.

“There was no phone call from him after that and yesterday we came to know about this incident,” she said.

“We came to know that they were stopped and taken into custody while car driver was sent back. We don’t know what happened after that,” a family member said.

The family members also contacted Indian embassy in Tripoli. The embassy officials told them that the issue will be sorted out in a day or two.

The kidnapping comes even as the fate of 39 Indians kidnapped in June 2014 from Mosul in Iraq remains unknown. The 39 were kidnapped by the Islamic State militants. The government maintains the men, all laborers from mostly Punjab, are still alive.

The Indian government had last year issued an advisory asking its citizens to leave Libya.

Libya has been hit by continuing violence with various militias and factions battling it out for control since Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

(IANS)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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Terrorism egypt
The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Egypt
The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

Egypt
This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)