Armed men have kidnapped a seven-member delegation from the Iranian Red Crescent visiting the eastern city of Benghazi, the Libyan Red Crescent has reported.
“An armed group detained at 1:00am a delegation of seven members of the Iranian Red Crescent after they left the headquarters of the Libyan Red Crescent in Benghazi,” a statement from the organisation said on Tuesday.
The Iranians were heading to the Tibesti hotel when an armed group intercepted them. They were loaded into a different car and whisked away to an unknown location, the statement added.
The driver of the vehicle, a local volunteer, was not taken.
The delegation arrived in Libya on Monday at the invitation of the Libyan Red Crescent to discuss “various co-operation prospects in the field of humanitarian aid”.
“The Libyan Red Crescent implores the group who detained the delegation to set them free in appreciation of the aid and support given by the Iranian Red Crescent during the February 17 revolution,” the statement said.
Libyans rose up against long-time leader Muammer Gaddafi on February 17, 2011 in a popular revolt that escalated into civil war and finally overthrew his regime.
On July 7, the country held elections for a legislative assembly, in what was hailed by international observers as a watershed moment in the country’s path to democracy.
But rights groups have continued to express concern over arbitrary arrests and secret detention centres run by militias made up of former anti-Gaddafi rebels.
This month also saw the kidnapping of Nabil al-Alam, Libya’s Olympic chief, by gunmen in broad daylight in Tripoli. He returned home on July 22 after a week in captivity.