An armed group in the northwestern Libyan coastal city of Sabratha kidnapped dozens of Tunisians late Monday night. The number of hostages has not yet been confirmed, but local news reports state that roughly 300 Tunisians were taken. Militants allied with one of Libya’s rival parliaments, the Tripoli-based General National Congress, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, according to Jawhara FM, a Tunisian news outlet.
The kidnapping was an act of revenge and leverage against the Tunisian government, whose security forces recently arrested a Libyan politician, aligned with the GNC, on charges of aiding terrorism by facilitating the travel of Tunisian foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria, according to local reports. On Tuesday, just hours after the Tunisians were detained, officials from the Tripoli parliament rejected a United Nations peace proposal for a joint unity government.
Houcine Dhaouadi, the deputy municipal leader in Sabratha, home to a Unesco World Heritage Site on Libya’s northwestern border with Tunisia, was reportedly detained with another Libyan upon his arrival at the Carthage airport in Tunisia on Saturday. The Sabratha Municipal Council condemned the arrests and said Dhaouadi was traveling to Tunisia on a U.N. mission, according to a written statement.
— The Libya Observer (@Lyobserver) October 13, 2015
The hostages were reportedly Tunisians who had come to Libya to work and were just passing through Sabratha.