14 Tunisian workers rescued after being held hostage by Libyan militia for three days

An oil refinery in Zawiya [Image: REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny]

Fourteen Tunisian oil refinery workers who were kidnapped last week by a Libyan militia were freed on Sunday, Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

The hostages were kidnapped on Thursday 14 February by an armed group while on their way to an oil refinery, and held in captivity in Zawiya city, in northwestern Libya.

The abductors demanded the release of one of their members from a Tunisian jail after being involved in drug trafficking.

The Tunisian nationals were freed in a security operation after Libyan forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar stormed the place where they were being held and were able to release them.

No injuries, deaths or arrests were made during the operation.

In a press release issued on Sunday night, the Tunisian authorities thanked their Libyan counterparts for helping their citizens, and praised the security operation that did not result in any casualties.

The case is not the first of its kind. In 2015, an armed militia stormed the Tunisian consulate in Tripoli and took 10 staff members hostage.

In 2011, chaos spread across Libya where its main cities were controlled by armed groups.

The country has currently two governments operating in the east and the west.

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