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Kerry denounces kidnapping of Libyan PM as 'thuggery'

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media during a small news conference in Kuala Lumpur on October 10, 2013
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media during a small news conference in Kuala Lumpur on October 10, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday denounced the kidnapping of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and pledged the United States would continue to work with Libya to shore up its security.

"Libyans did not risk their lives in their 2011 revolution to tolerate a return to thuggery," Kerry said in a statement, also welcoming Zeidan's release after he was held by gunmen for several hours.

"Today's events only underscore the need to work with Prime Minister Zeidan and with all of Libya's friends and allies to help bolster its capacity with greater speed and greater success," he said.

Zeidan was seized before dawn Thursday at his hotel in Tripoli by former rebel militiamen in what appeared to be a reprisal for a US raid that captured alleged key Al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi.

The government said Zeidan was taken to "an unknown destination for unknown reasons by a group" of men believed to be former rebels.

Several hours later, he returned to the government headquarters in an armored vehicle.

The Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries, former rebels who had roundly denounced Libi's abduction and blamed Zeidan's government for it, said it had "arrested" Zeidan under orders from the public prosecutor.

But the cabinet said on its Facebook page that ministers were "unaware of immunity being lifted or of any arrest warrant" for the premier.

Later, another group of ex-rebels, the Brigade for the Fight against Crime, said it was holding Zeidan, according to the official LANA news agency.

The government said it suspected both groups of being behind Zeidan's abduction.

The two groups loosely fall under the control of the defense and interior ministries but largely operate autonomously.

The pre-dawn seizure of Zeidan came five days after US commandos embarrassed and angered Libya's government by capturing Libi off the streets of Tripoli and whisking him away to a warship in the Mediterranean.

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