(TRIPOLI, Libya) — Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was released on Thursday, hours after the government said he was kidnapped earlier in the day by gunmen from a hotel in Tripoli.
The announcement of Zidan’s release was made on state TV after assailants broke into the hotel where the prime minister lives and took the official and two bodyguards. The guards were assaulted but later released.
According to a posting on the Libyan government’s website, Zidan, who has been the country’s prime minister for about a year, was brought to an “unknown location for unknown reasons.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry in Brunei, said, “We are looking into these reports and we are in close touch with senior U.S. and Libyan officials on the ground. We are working to determine more details. Our Embassy staff is safe in Tripoli. We have no further details at this time.”
Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya showed a purported image of Zidan being escorted by armed men.
The kidnapping comes days after the United States military captured Libyan al Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli. After al-Libi’s capture Saturday, the Libyan government said in a statement that it knew nothing about the raid and had asked the Americans for “clarifications” about the operation.
Al-Libi is suspected of helping to execute the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s.
Early Thursday morning, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the abduction on Twitter.
“I condemn the abduction of Libya’s Prime Minister and call for his immediate release. Gov and people of #Libya have our full support,” he tweeted.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN