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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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U.S. President Donald Trump Announces Withdraw Of Almost All The Troops From Syria

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials, as well as members of the coalition actively fighting the terror group, have been reluctant to predict when final victory will be declared.

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump shows maps of Syria and Iraq depicting the size of the "ISIS physical caliphate" as he speaks to workers at the country's only remaining tank manufacturing plant, in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019. VOA

In late 2018, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw almost all of its troops from Syria, saying the Islamic State terror group had been defeated and there was no longer a reason to deploy U.S. forces in the war-torn nation.

The announcement led to the resignation of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who reportedly felt the drawdown was premature.

In the months since Trump announced the defeat of IS, he has wavered on whether the group has been vanquished. Sometimes he predicted that total victory would come in hours or days, while other times he has doubled down on the claim that the IS threat has been eliminated.

U.S.
Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS,” in a video released by the White House, to explain why the U.S. was pulling most of its troops out of Syria. VOA

Here’s a chronology of claims concerning the demise of Islamic State.

Dec. 19, 2018 — Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS,” in a video released by the White House, to explain why the U.S. was pulling most of its troops out of Syria.

Dec. 22, 2018 — Trump tweets that “ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains.”

Jan. 16, 2019 — Vice President Mike Pence declares in a speech at the State Department that “the caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated.” Earlier that day, four Americans were killed in Syria by an IS suicide bomber.

Jan. 30, 2019 — Trump tweets about the “tremendous progress” made in Syria and that the IS “Caliphate will soon be destroyed.”

Feb. 1, 2019 — Trump repeats that “We will soon have destroyed 100 percent of the Caliphate.”

Feb. 3, 2019 — Trump tells CBS News, “We will be announcing in the not too distant future 100 percent of the caliphate, which is the area — the land, the area — 100. We’re at 99 percent right now, we’ll be at 100.”

Feb. 6, 2019 — Trump predicts that the declaration that the coalition has captured all IS holdings “should be formally announced sometime, probably next week.”

Feb. 10, 2019 — Trump tweets that the U.S. will control all former IS territory in Syria “soon.”

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Feb. 16, 2019 — Trump tweets, “We are pulling back after 100 percent Caliphate victory!” Pixabay

Feb. 11, 2019 — At a rally in El Paso, Texas, Trump says the announcement that 100 percent of Islamic State territory has been captured will be coming “maybe over the next week, maybe less.”

Feb. 15, 2019 — At a news conference Trump says a statement about “our success with the eradication of the caliphate … will be announced over the next 24 hours.”

Feb. 16, 2019 — Trump tweets, “We are pulling back after 100 percent Caliphate victory!”

Feb. 22, 2019 — Trump tells reporters “In another short period of time, like hours — you’ll be hearing hours and days — you’ll be hearing about the caliphate. It will — it’s 100 percent defeated.”

Donald Trump
March 2, 2019 — At a conference, Trump tells attendees, “As of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100 percent of the caliphate in Syria.” VOA

Feb. 28, 2019 — In a speech to U.S. troops in Alaska, Trump says, “We just took over, you know, you kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent, the caliphate in Syria. Now it’s 100 percent we just took over, 100 percent caliphate.”

March 2, 2019 — At a conference, Trump tells attendees, “As of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100 percent of the caliphate in Syria.”

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March 20, 2019 — Trump shows reporters a map that plots the territory still held by the Islamic State in Syria and promises that area “will be gone by tonight.”

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials, as well as members of the coalition actively fighting the terror group, have been reluctant to predict when final victory will be declared. Some also note that even when IS no longer controls any territory, fighters who escaped capture and are hiding within civilian populations could still pose a security threat. (VOA)