Two kidnapped Serbian embassy employees were killed Friday in an American air strike on an ISIS compound in Libya, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said.
|A picture released online by the Libya’s Sabratha Municipal Council on Friday.|
“We are united in grief after the death of our compatriots… Their bodies will be brought to Serbia late on Monday,” Vucic told a press conference Saturday.
Serbian PM blamed Ahmed Abashi, a Libyan smuggler, for the kidnapping of two Serbian embassy officials.
Vucic also called on the remaining 250 Serbs to leave Libya immediately.
The two Serbians were allegedly being held by the Islamic State at a militant training camp in northern Libya that was bombed by American warplanes.
“We spoke to American services today — it seems they didn’t know that Serbian nationals and other nationals were in the location that was bombed,” Vucic told journalists as he confirmed earlier reports of the deaths.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said earlier on Saturday Serbia would send a protest note to Washington for not informing Serbian authorities of the raid.
More than 40 people, probably including a militant connected to two deadly attacks last year in neighbouring Tunisia, were killed in Friday’s strikes by US warplanes in western Libya.
Diplomats and foreign nationals have been targeted in the past for kidnapping, mostly for ransom or to demand the release of Libyan fighters being held by overseas governments. Islamist militants have also targeted foreigners.
The two Serbian embassy employees were abducted near the Libyan town of Sabrath in November of last year.
|Serbia embassy staff Stankovic and Stepic were abducted in Libya on November 8; local media claims bodies were brought to Mitiga airbase by warlord Kara | Photo: twitter.|
They were in a convoy of cars, in which Serbian ambassador Oliver Potezica was also travelling with his family, although he managed to escape the abductors.
“We were keeping things under control,” Vucic said during the press conference. “We were getting proof of life on a nearly weekly bases — there were countless intermediaries, countless offers, from 16 to 60 million, but we never dealt directly with the kidnappers.”
Many Western governments have evacuated their embassies in 2014, when Libya was hit by a new wave of violence derailing the country’s fragile transition even further.
However, Belgrade maintained its embassy due to the number of Serbians still living or working in Libya.
During the Communist era in Yugoslavia, the country had strong ties with Libya and its leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
– See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/kidnapped-serbian-embassy-employees-reported-killed-in-airstrike-02-20-2016#sthash.Tpj9q0Bv.dpuf