BENGHAZI, LIBYA (Reuters) - Seven Iranian relief workers may be freed later on Friday by an armed group that took them hostage on Tuesday in the heart of the Libyan city Benghazi, a Libyan Red Crescent Association official said.
“We are waiting for their release which can happen any moment now,” Abdelhamid el-Madani, who heads the Libyan relief organization’s local branch in Benghazi, told Reuters by telephone. He declined to elaborate.
The seven Iranian men arrived in Benghazi on Monday as official guests of the Libyan Red Crescent to help with relief work in the city. They were seized from their vehicle by an unknown armed group in the heart Benghazi.
It was one of several violent incidents to recently shock the birthplace of last year’s revolt, where local groups have also staged protests demanding more powers for eastern Libya and objecting to what they say is the central authorities’ neglect of the region.
In Tripoli, the government spokesman Nasser el-Manea urged Benghazi’s local authorities to enforce the law by ensuring that the kidnappers face justice for their deed.
Earlier this month, the president of Libya’s Olympic Committee was freed a week after he was taken from his car by gunmen in Tripoli.
Reporting by Mohammed al-Tommy in Benghazi and Ali Shuaib in Tripoli; Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Lisa Shumaker