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Two Serbian Embassy Employees Abducted In Libya

  • RFE/RL

Serbia's Foreign Ministry says that two employees of its embassy in Libya have been abducted.

The ministry said in a November 8 statement that Sladjana Stankovic, a communications officer, and driver Jovica Stepic were abducted earlier in the day in Libya's northwestern coastal town of Sabratha.

It said that it is "doing all it can to get more information and secure the return of our citizens in a very complicated situation on the ground," but gave no further details about the reported abduction.

A Serbian government official in Belgrade, who asked not to be named, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying: "It appears it was an ambush, a shooting."

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic spoke with his Libyan counterpart about the abductions, the ministry said in the statement.

Libya has been in chaos since the ouster of longtime leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

The oil-rich North African country is now divided between two rival governments.

On one side is the country’s internationally recognized government and elected parliament, while on the other side, a self-styled administration controls Tripoli.

Each are backed by regional, tribal, or Islamist armed groups.

Belgrade has diplomatic relations with Libya's internationally recognized government, which is based in Tobruk on the country’s eastern Mediterranean coast, but it maintains an embassy in Tripoli.

Serbian citizens have worked in Libya for decades due to Belgrade's close bilateral ties with the Libyan government under Qaddafi.

Sabratha, where the two Serbian embassy employees are said to have been abducted, is considered a hub of extremists who receive training in militant camps to carry out deadly attacks in other countries.

The AFP news agency quoted a commander in the Sabratha Military Council, which is in charge of the city’s security and is loyal to the militia alliance that controls Tripoli, as saying that "we think that they are still in Sabratha" and that "all security branches are on full alert in the city since the Serbians were abducted."

"There are checkpoints everywhere, and we are looking for them. We have also alerted neighboring cities and areas and asked them to set up new checkpoints," the commander was quoted by AFP as saying.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP
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