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Libya PM says 'only 7' citizens held in UAE

AFP , Wednesday 10 Sep 2014
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Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani acknowledged Wednesday that the UAE has arrested seven Libyans, after reports that the Gulf state has detained 30.

"Only seven people" were being held in the United Arab Emirates, Thani told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

Thani said the Libyan embassy in the UAE had "taken measures to ensure their rights".

But he added that "if they had committed a crime against the UAE laws they will certainly be put to a fair trial... and if they are innocent... they will be released," without saying why they were arrested.

Pro-Islamist Libyan media reported on September 1 that some 30 Libyans were arrested in the United Arab Emirates.

The arrests reportedly came after air raids last month -- which US officials said were carried out by the United Arab Emirates -- against Islamist fighters in the North African country.

Media, including television channel An-Nabaa, said among those arrested were businessmen with long-standing ties to the UAE, including some from Misrata in eastern Libya.

The oil-rich Gulf monarchy looks upon Islamist militants in the region as a serious threat.

Last month, it toughened its anti-terrorism laws and has in the past few months jailed dozens of Emirati and foreign Islamists.

Thani also said that "we strongly deny" the UAE or its ally, Egypt, carried out bombing raids in Libya.

Libya has been sliding into chaos since Moamer Kadhafi was overthrown and killed three years ago, with interim authorities confronting powerful militias which fought to oust the veteran dictator.

Interim authorities had been steadily losing ground to the militias and the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) mainly Islamist alliance, which seized Tripoli airport after weeks of fighting.

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