|Kidnapped Libyan Prime Minister Released|
|By ANTHONY CASTELLANO (@AntCastellano)||Oct 10, 2013, 1:53 AM|
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was released today hours after the government said gunmen kidnapped him earlier in the day from a hotel in Tripoli where he resides.
The announcement of Zidan's released was announced on state TV after the men broke into his hotel room, abducted him and two of his guards and escorted them out of the building, The Associated Press reported, citing an official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
The gunmen took Zidan "to an unknown destination for unknown reasons," the Libyan government said in a brief statement on its website.
A former rebel group loosely allied to the government, the Revolutionaries Operations Room, said it had arrested Zidan on the orders of the prosecutor general, according to the BBC.
But Libya's minister of justice and the office of the prosecutor general denied the claim.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry in Brunei, said, "We are looking into these reports and we are in close touch with senior U.S. and Libyan officials on the ground. We are working to determine more details. Our Embassy staff is safe in Tripoli. We have no further details at this time."
Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya showed a purported image of Zidan being escorted by armed men.
The kidnapping comes days after the United States military captured Libyan al Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli. After Libi's capture Saturday, the Libyan government said in a statement that it knew nothing about the raid and had asked the Americans for "clarifications" about the operation.
Libi is suspected of helping to execute the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s.
The snatching of Zidan came hours after he met with the family of Libi, according to the AP.
U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the abduction early this morning on Twitter.
"I condemn the abduction of Libya's Prime Minister and call for his immediate release. Gov and people of #Libya have our full support," he tweeted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.