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Two Indians abducted in Libya (JMD quoted in The Hindu)

Two Indians abducted in Libya


For the second time in two months, two Indian nationals were kidnapped from Libya, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

Pravash Ranjan Samal of Odisha and Ramamurthy Kosanam of Andhra Pradesh were based at Ibn-E-Sina Hospital of Sirte. The Indian mission in Tripoli is trying to trace them.

This is the second time in less than two months that Indians are being kidnapped in Libya.

In July, four university teachers employed in Tripoli were kidnapped similarly by an Islamic group. Lakshmikant and Vijaykumar were subsequently released by the captors, but the fate of the other two remains unknown.

The kidnappings show that Libya is too dangerous for pursuing any profitable employment opportunity.

James M. Dorsey of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, who is a specialist in violent Arab and Islamist movements in Syria and Libya, told The Hindu that the situation in Sirte was too fluid at the moment to predict how the kidnappings would end, especially since the city had been overrun by the Islamic State. During the four-decade rule of Muammar Gaddafi, Sirte was known as the bastion of the Gaddafa tribe with close ties to the ruler.

Dr. Dorsey said Sirte had emerged as a city where the Islamic State forces of Saudi origin seemed to have an upper hand at the moment. The Islamic State, in recent weeks, has announced Abul-Mughirah al-Qahtani as its leader in Libya and Sirte as its headquarters in the country.

“Judging by the name, Al-Qahtani is likely to be a Saudi, though there is no clear hint that he has chosen Libya to be his exclusive zone of operation,” he said. That the Indians lived and worked in Sirte despite the Islamic State’s control shows the extent of the danger that they face.

Dr. Dorsey says the Islamic State evidently found Indians in Sirte as “targets of opportunity”. The latest kidnapping has highlighted the peril that Indians face and has triggered a debate among Indian diplomats about how to neutralise such continuous challenges best. Former diplomat Talmiz Ahmad, who played a key role in bringing back three Indian truckers from Iraq from a similar situation in 2003, told The Hindu that the External Affairs Ministry should be more forceful in issuing advisories for conflict zones such as Libya where the threats that Indians faced are real and present.

Dr. Dorsey says the IS in Sirte is being challenged by groups that owe allegiance to Gaddafi and criminal gangs and Indians are easy prey in such a lawless environment.

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