India on Monday welcomed the release of seven nationals who had been abducted in September by fighters in war-torn Libya. The Ministry of External Affairs acknowledged the support that the authorities in Tripoli have extended in ensuring the release of the seven persons belonging to Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.
“All of them are in good health and are currently staying in the company’s premises in Brega. We are trying to complete the formalities to enable their return to India,” said the Ministry about the men who were handed over to the representatives of energy company Al Shola Al Mudea. The Indians were abducted by one of the several active militias in the country on September 14 when they were on their way to the airport in capital Tripoli to catch a flight to return home.
It is learnt from local sources that they were employed by Al Shola Al Mudea.
“We convey our sincere thanks to the Libyan authorities and the tribal elders from the region for their steadfast cooperation in securing the release of our nationals unharmed. Both our Ambassador to Tunisia [Puneet Roy Kundal] and our local consular staff were in constant touch with them and the company all through the crisis,” said the MEA. The Ambassador has the additional responsibility of the mission in Tripoli as India does not have a resident ambassador in Tripoli as of now.
India imposed a ban on travelling to Libya back in 2011 and has renewed the advisory subsequently. Indian nationals are urged not to seek employment in the various energy, health and infrastructure facilities which has high demand for Indian professionals. The MEA reiterated the advisory on Monday.
Last week, the Ministry assured that South Block was “making all possible efforts in consultation and coordination with Libyan authorities and the employer to trace” the citizens. Libya has seen continuous fighting since the fall of the regime of Muammar Qadhafi in October 2011. New Delhi evacuated 18,000 citizens during the fighting that erupted between the forces loyal to Qadhafi and various rebel and terrorist groups in the spring of 2011. In 2016, an IT professional Regi Joseph was taken hostage by the fighters but was released subsequently .
Mr. Kundal, who coordinated the nearly month-long negotiations, said in a social media message the seven will be repatriated soon.