Four Indians have been allegedly kidnapped by members of the Islamic State (IS)—also known as ISIS—in Libya, where they had been working at a university.
“We came to know at 11 pm that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 km from Sirte,” the Indian foreign ministry’s spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, said. The Indian foreign ministry added that no ransom requests had been received so far, and that it was in constant touch with the families of the four.
Sirte—a coastal city in northern Libya halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi—saw heavy fighting earlier this year before it was taken over by IS.
Although the Indian foreign ministry hasn’t confirmed the exact identities of the abductors, it said the four Indians have been taken back to Sirte, which is also former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown.
The four Indians, reportedly including three faculty members of the University of Sirte, had spent a year working in war-torn Libya, which has been roiled by spasms of violence since Gaddafi’s regime was brought down in 2011.
This, however, isn’t the first instance of Indian citizens been trapped in Libya. Last year, a group of 65 nurses were stranded in Tripoli, the capital city, because of fierce fighting between the Libyan government troops and Islamic fighters. The nurses were later evacuated and brought back to India.
If indeed kidnapped by the IS in Sirte, these four join another 39 Indians who were abducted by the Islamic group in Iraq’s Mosul last year. The government of India insists that all 39 of these hostages in Iraq are alive and safe, although one purported abductee who escaped from Mosul claims that Indians have been killed.
Meanwhile, in what is believed to be an IS recruitment document, the Islamic group is apparently preparing for an attack in India, USA Today reported on July 28. The Indian government described the claim as “rubbish.”