2 of 4 Indians abducted in Libya freed

31 Jul 2015 | 7:01 PM

NEW DELHI: Two of four Indian teachers that the jihadist group Islamic State is believed to have held hostage in Libya since July 29 were released on Friday. "Four Indians abducted in Libya — I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said. It was not immediately known how they were freed.

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2 of 4 Indians abducted in Libya freedExternal Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

New Delhi, July 31

Two of four Indian teachers that the jihadist group Islamic State is believed to have held hostage in Libya since July 29 were released on Friday.

"Four Indians abducted in Libya — I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said. However, it was not immediately known how they were freed.

MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the two Indians have been brought back safely to University of Sirte. They were still trying to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

Swaraj briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident early on Friday morning.

"Two days ago, on July 29 at around 11 pm, our Mission in Tripoli came to know that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis, were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 kms from Sirte. Of the four Indian nationals, two are from Hyderabad, one from Raichur and one from Bengaluru. Three of them were faculty members at the Sirte University and one was working at the Sirte University branch in Jufra," the spokesperson said.

The ministry has been in touch with the families of the hostages, he said.

Sources from the ministry, meanwhile, claim that the area from which they had been taken was under the jihadists’ control. So far, however, there is believed to be no demand for ransom.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh government urged Swaraj to expedite steps for the safe return of the Indians.

In a letter to Swaraj, State Government's Special Representative in Delhi K Rama Mohana Rao said four people, including two Professors, Balaram of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and Gopi Krishna from Hyderabad at Telangana were take hostage by an unknown group on July 29.

"I request your good self to instruct the officials of the Indian Embassy at Tripoli, Libya to interact with the Government authorities in Libya to assist and extend full cooperation for the safe return of the Indian hostages including those from Andhra Pradesh," Rao said.

The Islamic State had overrun several parts of Iraq and Syria to declare a caliphate.

As the conflict to liberate these lands and stop the jihadists’ advance raged on in both countries, the Indian government had issued an advisory in July last year asking its citizens to leave conflict-hit Libya.

The latest abduction comes even as the fate 39 missing Indians, believed to have taken hostage when the conflict between the militants and US-backed forces in the country was at its peak, remains unknown. Efforts to secure their release have so far been ineffective. — PTI

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