An emergency team led by the directors of Zawya’s Security Directorate has been formed to investigate the abduction of 14 Tunisian workers in the northwestern city, the Ministry of Interior said Saturday.
Meanwhile, the minister of interior of the Government of National Accord, Fathi Bashagha, declared the state of emergency m in Zawya.
The 14 workers were kidnapped while travelling to work at an oil refinery in Zawya, Mustafa Abdel Kabir, head of the Tunisian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Friday.
Abdel Kebir added that tribesmen demanding the release of a member of the tribe, who is imprisoned in Tunisia on drug charges, are behind the abduction.
“The ministry has spoken to its Libyan counterpart to demand the protection of the abductees, expedite their release and ensure their safe return,” the Tunisian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Previously, 10 Tunisian diplomats were kidnapped in 2015 by a Libyan militia that had demanded the release of one of its leaders, Walid Glib, detained in Tunisia as part of a counter-terrorism investigation.
After the 10 detainees were released, Tunisia shut down its consulate in Libya for three years and reopened it in 2018.
Abductions for ransoms or political purposes have proliferated in Libya since the 2011 uprising amid lack of security and a unified government.