Egypt releases Libyan militiaman Hadia after 5 kidnapped Egyptian diplomats let go

MENA, Reuters, Monday 27 Jan 2014

Shabaan Hadia released by Egytpian authorities after Libyan kidnappers release the five Egyptian diplomats who were seized on Friday and Saturday in Tripoli

Egyptian embassy in Libya (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian authorities have let go Libyan militiaman Shabaan Hadia following the release of five Egyptian diplomats who had been kidnapped in Tripoli in retaliation for his arrest, Libya's ministry for foreign affairs and international cooperation confirmed Monday.  

The ministry's statement said that Hadia was in "good condition" and that he was currently returning to Libya via Cairo International Airport.

The five Egyptian diplomats were freed on Sunday. The previous day, four of them including the cultural attaché, were kidnapped by gunman from their homes in Tripoli, the capital. Another diplomat was kidnapped on Friday, forcing Cairo to evacuate its embassy in Tripoli and its consulate in Benghazi.

Afterwards the kidnappers called Dubai-based TV channel Al-Arabiya on Saturday, demanding Hadia's release within the next 24 hours. One of the Egyptian diplomats was put on the line to plead for the demands.

Heavily armed ex-fighters, militiamen and Islamist militants who battled former leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the 2011 uprising have refused to disarm and often remain more loyal to their brigades, tribal leaders or local regions than to the new Libyan government.

The militant group known as Operations Room of Libya's Revolutionaries has denied any involvement in the kidnappings. The militia is nominally under the control of Libya's chief of staff to work alongside the armed forces, but it has used military muscle to make political demands on the state in the past.

Hadia is a commander with the Operations Room.

The group said Hadia was arrested while visiting Egypt with family for medical treatment. Egypt confirmed that he had been detained, but no details were immediately available about whether he had been freed on Sunday.

The Operations Room was accused of briefly abducting Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Tripoli last October. It initially claimed it had arrested Zeidan, but later denied the claim after he was released hours later.

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