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Libyan PM Calls Kidnapping Attempted Coup

Libya's prime minister says his brief abduction was nothing less than a failed attempt to overthrow the government.

In a news conference Friday in Tripoli, Prime Minister Ali Zidan lashed out at his kidnappers, saying his capture was part of a broader plan on the part of his political opponents to destabilize the government.

The suspected kidnappers -- former rebels now part of the Libyan government -- have said they acted in response to a United States Special Forces operation that resulted in the capture of suspected al-Qaida leader Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli. They said they were upset the government allowed the U.S. raid to proceed after being given a heads-up.

But aides close to Prime Minister Zidan say the plot was actually hatched days earlier and that it involved some senior Libyan lawmakers.

Zidan, a former human rights lawyer, served briefly in the diplomatic corps of the former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi before going into exile in Europe in 1980. He was freed from the Tripoli house where he was being held after only six hours of captivity by rival militiamen from two Tripoli districts.



The head of the government security team at the Corinthia Hotel where Mr. Zidan resides said the gunmen arrived in an assortment of pick-ups and cars and surrounded the landmark hotel looming over the capital's old souk. They blocked the entrances before half of the contingent peeled off and entered the foyer demanding to know Zidan's whereabouts and shouting they had an arrest warrant.

The brazen abduction of Zidan underscored the lawlessness of Libya and heightened public and international alarm over the power of the militias and the unruliness of the country.

The Swedish consulate in Benghazi was the target of a car bomb attack on Friday. No injuries were reported.

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