Two Serbian embassy employees, a man and a woman, have been abducted in Libya’s northwestern coastal city of Sabratha while travelling with a convoy to Tunisia, the government in Belgrade said.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that the convoy was carrying Serbia’s ambassador to Libya in a separate car when the incident happened on Sunday morning in the city about 100km from the main border crossing between Libya and Tunisia.
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“Some shots were fired; one Libyan citizen was wounded in a leg, according to first reports,” Dacic told the national RTS broadcaster.
“We have no information about who the kidnappers are. Nobody has contacted us to demand anything. We are following the situation,” he said, adding that a crisis committee had been set up.
Dacic said he had alerted the Serbian prime minister of the missing employees.
“The ministry is making utmost efforts to gather information and secure the safe return of our citizens,” a statement by Serbia’s foreign ministry said.
The ministry has also identified the abducted pair as Sladjana Stankovic, in charge of communications, and Jovica Stepic, a driver.
Sabratha is considered a bastion for extremists in lawless Libya, which has become a magnet for radical militants who receive weapons training in jihadist camps before launching deadly attacks on other countries.
Libya descended into chaos after the October 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, with two governments vying for power and armed groups battling for control over its vast energy resources.
Libya Dawn, a coalition of armed groups, took control of Tripoli in August 2014, establishing a rival government and parliament that forced the internationally-recognised administration to flee to the country’s remote east.
Belgrade maintains an embassy in Tripoli, and Serbian citizens, mostly doctors and other medical staff, as well as construction workers, have been working in Libya for decades due to close bilateral relations during Qaddafi’s rule.
Many Serbians, particularly those working in hospitals, have stayed despite the unrest since 2011.
The Serbian foreign ministry statement said it was doing “everything possible in a difficult situation on the ground, to get more information and ensure the return of our citizens”.
It added that Dacic had spoken with his Libyan counterpart about the abductions.
In June, a Tunisian student, armed with an assault rifle, shot 38 tourists at a beach resort in his country. Tunisia’s secretary of state for national security said the attacker had been trained in Sabratha.