Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was abducted for several hours Thursday by former rebels integrated into the ranks of the security forces, in the latest blow to the government's efforts to bring stability to the North African nation.
Zeidan's ordeal began at 5:00 a.m. when several dozen militiamen assigned to the Interior Ministry burst into Tripoli's Corintia hotel, where the prime minister lives, and whisked him away to an unknown destination.
After an emergency meeting, the government condemned the incident, termed it a kidnapping and demanded Zeidan's release.
A rumor that Zeidan had been freed then spread minutes later and was quickly confirmed by government spokesman Mohammed Kaabar
"The prime minister has been freed and is in good health," the spokesman said, implying that he was released thanks to the intervention of other security force members.
At around 1200 GMT, Zeidan entered his office amid tight security, marking an end to the 10-hour abduction.
In his first statements after regaining his freedom, an exhausted-looking Zeidan congratulated the security forces and acknowledged that Libya has many problems to solve.
The premier also sought to calm fears among the diplomatic missions and the expatriate community in Libya.
The incident involved "domestic political disputes" in which "foreigners are not the target," he said.
Even so, a series of homicides, attacks on police stations and diplomatic missions, acts of sabotage affecting oil installations and armed clashes have cast doubt on the ability of Zeidan and his government team to impose law and order in Libya.
Weapons proliferation, the weakness of the security forces and insubordination of militias and rebels who participated in the 2011 overthrow of the Gaddafi regime remain the government's Achilles' heel. EFE