DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh on Monday confirmed one of its citizens was among nine foreign workers taken hostage last week by the Islamic State militant group in an attack on a Libyan oilfield.
Foreigners have increasingly become targets in Libya’s turmoil, where two rival governments are battling for control and Islamist extremists have grown in the chaos that followed Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster four years ago.
Up to 10 foreign workers were missing after the attack on the Al-Ghani oil field south of the Libyan city of Sirte, Czech and Libyan officials said.
“Unfortunately one Bangladeshi has been kidnapped and our embassy in Tripoli has engaged all its efforts to find out and release him with safety,” junior foreign minister Mohammad Shahriar Alam told Reuters.
Bangladesh’s foreign ministry identified the abducted citizen as Helal Uddin, a resident of Jamalpur, 200 km (124 miles) northwest of Dhaka, capital of the South Asian nation.
“One Bangladeshi national, along with eight other foreign nationals, were taken hostage by the Islamic group ISIS on Friday,” it said in a statement.
Bangladesh’s embassy in Tripoli was in close touch with Libya’s National Oil Company and VAOS, the company targeted in the attack, the ministry added.
Western governments are backing United Nations negotiations to end the crisis in Libya, worried that the large North African state just across the Mediterranean from mainland Europe is becoming a haven for Islamist militants.
Libyan militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been blamed for high-profile attacks this year involving foreigners, including an assault on a Tripoli hotel and the beheading of a group of Egyptian Christians.
Militants this month also stormed and damaged several Libyan oilfields around al-Ghani, forcing the government to declare force majeure, pull out workers and shut down production on 11 oilfields in the central Sirte basin.
U.N.-backed talks to form a unity government and a lasting ceasefire in Libya are continuing in Morocco. But both sides face internal splits over the negotiations and fighting between the two governments continues.
Additional reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Clarence Fernandez