KATHMANDU, June 15: Four Nepalis abducted by a little-known armed group in Libya, have been rescued with the help of the United Nations (UN) agency and the Nepali Embassy in Egypt, according to Nepali ambassador to Egypt Jhabindra Aryal.
“They were rescued two days ago with the help of the UN, local government and other informal channel. They have been kept at a shelter of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) located near Tripoli, the Libyan capital,” said Aryal.
Ambassador Aryal said they have already issued travel documents to the four Nepalis to fly back home. “We are working to repatriate them soon,” he said.
Ambassador Aryal said three other Nepalis have come to their contact saying that they are also in dangerous situation and want to return home. “We are working to facilitate their return. Apart from the four rescued recently, we had rescued four others sometime ago. They are also awaiting repatriation,” he said.
The armed rebel group named Jawiya Osama, which is said to be operating in Libya, had abducted them as a ship ferrying foreign workers to Italy was stuck at a Libyan port for a few days due to 'wrong mapping'. Four Nepali nationals—Purna Prakash Adhikari, Raj Kumar Gurung and Dinesh Khatri of Lamjung and Netra Bhattarai of Chitwan -- were among 38 foreign nationals held captive by the Libyan rebel group.
The rebel group had given both physical and mental torture to the captives, demanding huge amounts of money in ransom. The victims had complained to their relatives that they were in a great ordeal, suspended between life and death, as the abductors had threatened to skin them alive if they failed to pay the ransom up to $6,000.
Panicked family members in Nepal then pleaded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for help. Nepali Embassy in Egypt, which is also concurrently accredited to Libya, mobilized formal, semi-formal and informal channels to rescue the Nepalis.
Nepal has banned its citizens from visiting Libya for employment in view of the deteriorating security situation. But Nepali nationals continue to visit the North African country through illegal channels as brokers promise them lucrative jobs.
Prior to this, Nepali Embassy in Egypt in coordination with Nepali peacekeepers, UN agencies and Non-resident Nepali associations has already sent back some 22 Nepalis trapped in Libya.