Abductors free daughter of Libya's ex-spy chief

AP , Sunday 8 Sep 2013

Militia that kidnapped Anoud el-Senoussi claimed to be protecting her from criminal gangs amid a security vacuum in the country

The daughter of Libya's ex-spy chief under dictator Moammar Gadhafi was released by her abductors after her tribe cut off the capital's water supply, officials said Sunday.

Commander Haitham el-Tajouri of the militia that kidnapped Anoud el-Senoussi said that she was handed over to her tribe in southern Libya late Saturday after the country's prime minister negotiated her release.

El-Tajouri's militia is part of the Supreme Security Committee, which is comprised of militias that work with police and are paid to help with security by the Interior Ministry. The 21 year old's abduction highlighted the government's inability to control even its own paid forces.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan has struggled to reign in a combustible mix of tribal feuds, disgruntled tribes and renegade militias. The country's nascent police and army have been unable to secure the country and rely on help from former rebels who fought in the 2011 civil war that toppled Gadfhafi. The armed militias born out of the war often act above the law and have taken part in a string of abductions, often seeking revenge.

Amnesty International said last week that el-Senoussi's abduction "casts a shadow on the Libyan authorities' ability to ensure the safety" of around 8,000 detainees held in relation to the 2011 war.

The rights group said masked men armed with heavy weapons attacked a three-car judicial convoy carrying her Monday and that no one was reported injured.

Amnesty said the judicial police have been significantly weakened because of the war and that hundreds of officers have failed to report back to work since. It added that around 10,000 former members of armed brigades that fought against Gadhafi are being courted by the Interior Ministry to beef up policing, but "lack the necessary training and experience to handle detainees," Amnesty said.

The militia claimed in a statement online that it had abducted el-Senoussi to protect her from criminal gangs amid a security vacuum in the North African country.

El-Senoussi was kidnapped as she left al-Rayoumi prison in Tripoli where she was visiting her father, Abduallah el-Senoussi. He is detained over his alleged role in crimes committed during the civil war. His daughter was previously detained for 10 months on charges of using a forged passport and entering Libya on a forged document.

Days after her abduction, el-Senoussi's Megraha tribe in Sabha in southern Libya cut the power on pumps that keep water flowing to the northwest and the capital. Water shortages hit Tripoli, forcing hospitals and homes to rely on wells and large tanks.

Water Minister El-Hady Hansheer said Sunday that water valves in the south were opened after three days of being shut off.

El-Tajouri said el-Senoussi's release was not a result of blackmail or pressure.

"If Anoud had committed a crime against Libyans or her arrest was required she would not have been released even if our air and not just our water was cut off," he told reporters.

Hisham Hassan, a spokesman for the International Commission of the Red Cross in Libya, also confirmed to the AP on Sunday that el-Senoussi was safely released.

Also Sunday, a Libyan security official said a disgruntled officer in uniform opened fire at the front gates of the prime minister's office in the heart of Tripoli. No one was injured. The official said civilians arrested the man and handed him over to the building's guards.

In the eastern city of Benghazi, another Libyan official said Capt. Salem Shabaan, one of several officers in charge of a group of special forces at the airport there, survived a car bombing. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

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