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Tunisian diplomat kidnapped in Libya: Security source


A picture of the Tunisian embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, where a diplomat identified as Al Aroussi Al Fatnassi was kidnapped in still unknown circumstances just two days after armed men seized Jordan's ambassador. Photo - AFP

Tripoli: A Tunisian diplomat was kidnapped on Thursday in Tripoli in unknown circumstances, a Libyan security source said, just two days after armed men seized Jordan's ambassador.

A Tunisian source confirmed the abduction and identified the diplomat as Al Aroussi Al Fatnassi, without giving further details. Tunis's ambassador to Libya, Ridha Boukadi, refused to comment.

Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Said Lessoued said he could not confirm nor deny the reported abduction, the latest in a string of incidents targeting foreign diplomats and Libyan politicians.

A Tripoli police official, quoted by Al Wassat news website, however said the diplomat was seized by unknown assailants near the central Al Kadissiya square not far from the Tunisian embassy.

If confirmed, the diplomat would be the second staffer from the Tunisian embassy abducted in the Libyan capital since March 21 when a man employed by the mission was seized. His fate is still unknown.

Diplomats in Tripoli say militias that fought to topple the Muammer Gadhafi regime in the 2011 uprising often carry out kidnappings in order to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans held abroad.

On Tuesday masked gunmen kidnapped Jordan's ambassador, Fawaz Aitan, as he rode to work in Tripoli, shooting at his car and wounding his driver.

Libya has been gripped by increasing lawlessness since Nato-backed rebels ended the four-year reign of the autocratic Gadhafi, who was killed in the 2011 uprising.

Over the past three years the North African country has seen near daily attacks targeting security forces, a rebellion that blockaded vital oil terminals for nine months and a growing crisis stemming from the interim parliament's decision to extend its mandate.

Libya is awash with weapons from the 2011 conflict, and authorities have struggled to establish security by integrating anti-Gadhafi militias into the regular army or police force

Diplomatic staff and missions have borne the brunt of the unrest.

In January, gunmen seized five Egyptian diplomats and held them for two days before releasing them.
The abductors had demanded in return the release of a Libyan militia chief held in Egypt.

Two assailants were killed in October when protesters attacked Russia's embassy in Tripoli, and a car bomb attack on the French embassy wounded two guards a year ago.

On September 11, 2012, an attack by militants on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the 2011 revolt, killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American citizens.

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