- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2020

CAIRO (AP) - An armed group has released seven Indian workers a month after their abduction in Libya, the Indian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The Indian nationals, who are engineers and technicians working for an oil services company, were freed on Sunday after negotiations with the armed group, the interior ministry of eastern Libya’s government said in a statement. It was not immediately clear who was behind the abduction.

In recent years India, like many other countries, has imposed a travel ban on Libya because of the security situation in the mostly lawless North African country.

India’s Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed the kidnapped workers’ release after “steadfast cooperation” from Libyan authorities and tribal elders in the region.

It said the workers, who were abducted on Sep. 14 while at Al-Shwerif, over 400 kilometers (248 miles) southwest of Tripoli, were handed over to their employer, the al-Shola al-Mudia company, in the port city of Brega.

“All of them are in good health and are currently staying in the company’s premises in Brega. We are trying to complete requisite formalities to enable their return to India,” the statement said.

The police department in the Oil Crescent area posted video footage of the freed workers at the oil company, with a Libyan official reading a statement on their release.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The country has since split between rival east- and west-based administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign powers.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday the hostage-taking shows again, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, that “Libya is not a safe port of embarkation for migrants or for refugees.”

Dujarric said the workers’ abduction was another reminder why Libya’s rival governments, their supporters and the international community need to support a new political dialogue “to unify the government in Libya, to restore the rule of law in Libya, and to ensure tragedies like this do not happen again.”

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