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Kidnapped S Korean trade official freed in Libya

23 January 2014, 11:50

Tripoli - A South Korean trade official who was kidnapped in Libya has been freed three days after he was taken hostage by armed men, the Libyan and South Korean foreign ministries said on Wednesday.

Han Seok-Woo, the head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), was freed on Wednesday and was in good health, they said.

Libya's deputy foreign minister, Abdelrazak al-Gridi, told the Lana news agency that Libyan security forces freed him.

Seoul's foreign ministry confirmed the release, saying the four gunmen who had kidnapped him on Sunday were arrested by the Libyan authorities.

"It is believed that they are members of a minor armed rebel group," the ministry said, adding Han had been handed over to the South Korean embassy.

"We hold in high regard the active efforts by the Libyan government to help rescue Han in close coordination with our government," it said in a statement.

Gridi did not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Han's release.

Han was kidnapped in the capital Tripoli on his way home after work on Sunday. The abduction took place amid ongoing instability following the ouster and death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Han was taken by four unidentified gunmen who dragged him out of his car, shoved him into their own vehicle and drove away, while leaving his Iraqi driver behind.

Han has worked in the KOTRA office in Tripoli since 2012, Yonhap said, citing Seoul officials.

Libya has been plagued by violence and sporadic armed unrest in many parts of the country since Gaddafi’s overthrow.

Its deputy industry minister was shot dead last week and Tripoli declared a state of emergency Saturday after fresh clashes with armed groups in the south.



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