Prominent Libyan activist abducted amid clashes
CAIRO (AP) — Armed men abducted a well-known Libyan political activist in the country’s capital, his father said Friday, the latest in rampant attacks that have targeted officials, activists and foreigners in the strife-torn nation.
The abduction of Abdel-Moaz Banoun came as Tripoli is embroiled in weeks-long clashes between rival militias. The fighting has killed and wounded dozens on both sides.
Banoun’s father, Abdullah Banoun, told The Associated Press that his son was taken by two armed men who attacked his car on Thursday. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but the father blamed the militias.
Abdel-Moaz Banoun has been an outspoken critic of the militias and has urged that they be disbanded. He has also advocated the establishment of a unified police and army, which Libya lacks and which successive governments have not managed to form since the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
An umbrella group for Islamist militias, called the Operation Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, said in a brief statement on its Facebook page on Friday that “troops arrested Abdel-Moaz over allegations that he served under Gadhafi” and “instigated rallies against” the Islamic militias.
The statement did not specify who the troops were affiliated with or how the umbrella group knew of the abduction.
Libya is witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since Gadhafi’s ouster. In Tripoli, the militias are fighting mostly for control of the city’s airport. They are on the government’s payroll since authorities have depended on them to restore order.
Also, militia clashes in Libya’s second-largest city, Benghazi, have prompted the United Nations, aid groups and foreign envoys to leave the country.
In Tripoli, clashes near the international airport have forced residents to evacuate their homes nearby after they were hit by shells. The official news agency LANA reported that explosions were also heard early Friday near the airport area and continued into the afternoon.