Tunisia shuts down Libya consulate over staff kidnapping

Tunisia closes down its consulate in Tripoli, Libya after freeing 10 previously abducted staff members

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Tunisia has decided to close its consulate in Libya after retrieving 10 abducted staff members. The consulate workers were taken in captivity on June 12, when gunmen burst into the building and targeted foreign citizens and diplomats, Tunisian Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche told Reuters on Friday.

The Tunisian foreign minister also announced that all Tunisian citizens are advised to leave Libya immediately.

"After this serious incident [kidnapping], we have decided to close the consulate in Tripoli," Taieb Baccouche told reporters, shortly after announcing the release of the consulate workers abducted by armed men last week.

No group has officially taken responsibility for the abduction.

No details were provided regarding the negotiations to free the staff but their discharge proceeded directly from a Tunisian court’s ruling to extradite Walid Kalib, a Libyan citizen who was charged with involvement in “terrorist affairs.”

Since the fall of the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been plunged into a state of unrest. Libyan armed groups have repeatedly kidnapped diplomats and foreign nationals to push their respective governments to free captured Libyan militants held in jails overseas.

The Tunisian consulate was one of the few that remained on Libyan soil after many countries ended their missions last summer to ensure the safety of their employees.

Tunisia’s foreign minister denied any deal was made for the exchange of Walid Kalib with the 10 kidnapped diplomatic mission staffers, and said that Kalib’s case was in the "hands of the judiciary."

TRTWorld and agencies