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Libyan militiamen nab 'US terror stooge' PM

Ali Zidan freed hours after being seized by angry gunmen

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan has been freed from captivity, just hours after militia gunmen abducted him at dawn from the hotel where he lives in Tripoli.

Witnesses said that up to 150 gunmen laid siege to the Corinthia Hotel before daybreak.

Hotel security manager Mohammed Shaaban said the gunmen showed the hotel management an arrest warrant that they claimed had been issued by the public prosecutor.

However, the public prosecutor's office insists that it had issued no warrant for Mr Zidan's arrest.

The brazen abduction was apparently because one militia - known as the Anti-Crime Committee - suspected the prime minister of complicity in the US special forces raid over the weekend that seized Libyan al-Qaida suspect Abu Anas al-Libi on the streets of Tripoli.

Anti-Crime Committee official Abdel-Moneim al-Hour had told news agencies that Mr Zidan had been "arrested" on accusations of harming state security and corruption.

From information emerging in a highly confused situation, it appears that another Libyan militia then intervened to free Mr Zidan.

A militia commander affiliated with the Interior Ministry said that the prime minister had been freed when members of his militia stormed the house where he was being held.

Haitham al-Tajouri, who commands the so-called Reinforcement Force, said that his fighters had exchanged fire with the captors but Mr Zidan was not hurt.

On Tuesday, Mr Zidan had said the Libyan government had requested that Washington allowed Mr Libi's family to establish contact with him.

Mr Zidan insisted that Libyan citizens should be tried in their homeland if they are accused of crimes, saying: "Libya does not surrender its sons."

Immediately after the raid the Libyan government said it had been carried out without its knowledge and asked Washington for "clarification" about the operation.

But Mr Zidan had also told reporters that "The US was very helpful to Libya during the revolution and relations should not be affected by such an incident, even if it is a serious one."


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