Extremists hold hostages in unrest-hit city: Libya

AFP , Sunday 20 Feb 2011

An extremist group takes hostages in the Libyan city of Al-Baida amid unrest

A group of "Islamist extremists" have taken hostage members of the security forces and civilians in unrest-swept eastern Libya, a senior Libyan official told AFP on Sunday.

"A group of Islamist extremists ... is holding hostage security elements and civilians, threatening to execute them unless a siege by security forces is lifted" in the city of Al-Baida, the official said, asking not to be named.

The group called itself the "Islamic Emirate of Barqa," after the ancient name of a region of northwest Libya, he said.

Justice Minister Mustafa Abdeljalil started negotiations late on Saturday for the hostage-takers to release their captives, he said. "But we will not negotiate over Libya's integrity under any circumstances."

The official said the same group was responsible for the hanging of two policemen in Al-Baida on Friday that was reported in Oea newspaper.

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