Libya: Indian university teachers 'kidnapped'

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University of SirteImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Indians were teaching at the University of Sirte

Four Indian teachers have been kidnapped in Libya, India's foreign ministry has reported, adding later it had secured the release of two of them.

The four were abducted at a checkpoint near the city of Sirte, where they were teaching at a university.

The Islamic State (IS) group has a strong presence in Sirte, hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya has descended into chaos since Gaddafi's death in October 2011, with various militias fighting for power.

The teachers, from the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, were working with the University of Sirte.

They were kidnapped on their way back to India on Wednesday.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
A relative in India holds up a picture of one of the abducted teachers

"They were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis, when they were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50km (31 miles) from Sirte," an Indian foreign ministry spokesperson said.

It is still not clear who kidnapped the teachers, but the spokesperson said the Indians "have been brought back to the city of Sirte".

On Friday afternoon, a tweet by India's foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said the government was "able to secure the release" of two of them - named as Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar.

"Trying for other two," the tweet said.

Most of Sirte fell to IS in May. Last July, a group of 65 Indian nurses were trapped in fighting in Libya.

The nurses, who had been working in hospitals in the country, safely returned to India in August.

In June 2014, 40 Indians - all construction workers - were kidnapped in the violence-hit Iraqi city of Mosul. Their fate is still not known.