Jordan’s ambassador to Libya has been kidnapped in Tripoli by masked armed men who attacked his car and shot his driver.
A spokesman for Libya’s Foreign Ministry said that Fawaz al-Aitan was abducted in Tripoli’s Mansour neighbourhood on Tuesday.
Masked men in civilian clothes driving a BMW and a pick-up vehicle surrounded the ambassador’s car, immediately opening fire.
Aitan’s driver was shot in the leg in the attack and has since been hospitalised. One of the his guards was shot in the arm.
The men, who spoke the Libyan dialect, according to the Libyan Foreign Ministry, then forced Aitan into one of their vehicles and drove away at high speed.
Essam Baitelmel, a member of the Libyan team investigating the abduction, said the kidnappers had demanded the release of Mohamed Dersi, a Libyan jailed for life in 2007 for plotting to blow up the main airport in Jordan.
The kidnappers made their demands in a call to the ambassador’s own mobile phone, which was left behind in the car after the abduction, Baitelmel said. They said the diplomat was unharmed.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that its ambassador had been abducted. The country’s Royal Jordanian airline later cancelled Tuesday’s scheduled flight to Tripoli.
Abdullah Ensour, Jordan’s prime minister, told members of parliament that Aitan was abducted from his car as he was leaving his house but that the identity of the attackers was unknown.
“The Jordanian government holds the kidnapping party responsible for the safety of the ambassador and will take all necessary measures to protect his life and release him,” Ensour said, without elaborating.
Earlier this year, five Egyptian diplomats, the secretary of Tunisia’s ambassador to Libya and a South Korean trade official were abducted.
Aitan had been based in Libya since the establishment of the National Transitional Council, and was among the first Arab ambassadors to be assigned to Libya after the revolution.
He previously worked for the Jordanian embassy in Morocco as a diplomat.