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Korean trade official kidnapped in Libya

Updated: 2014-01-20 14:28:15 (KST)
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Now we begin with troubling news out of Libya
Seoul's foreign ministry says a Korean trade official was kidnapped in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Sunday evening local time,. which is early Monday morning, Korea time.
For the latest, let's go live to our foreign affairs correspondent Hwang Sung-hee at the foreign ministry.
Sung-hee, fill us in.

The foreign ministry has confirmed the identity of the kidnapped man as Han Seok-woo, the head of trade relations at KOTRA, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, in Libya.
The ministry said Han was taken by four armed men on his way home from work on Sunday evening local time, which was around 1 a.m. Monday here in Korea.
The incident was reported by Han's driver, who was with him at the time of the abduction.
He told the Korean embassy in Libya that the kidnappers stopped their car and threatened both of them with weapons before taking Han in their car and heading west of Tripoli.
Not much information has been released about the identity or motive of the kidnappers, although the Libyan government suspects that al-Qaeda may be behind the abduction.
The incident is being viewed as pre-meditated, either for money or for political negotiations.

How is the Korean government responding?

Officials in Seoul are working around the clock on the case.
The government and KOTRA convened an emergency meeting earlier this morning to discuss the incident and a special task force headed by the foreign ministry has also been set up.
The foreign ministry said that it will be working closely with all channels, including the Libyan government, for the swift and safe release of the abductee.
The government has issued a special travel warning following the incident, banning all Koreans from travelling to Libya.
Many parts of Libya have been hit by violence and unrest in recent years with the capital Tripoli declaring a state of emergency this past weekend after fresh clashes with armed groups.
As of January 18th, there were approximately 5-hundred-51 Koreans residing in Libya.
Although there has been a number of robbery cases against Koreans in Libya in the past, this is the first time a Korean has been kidnapped.

We are all hoping for the safe release of the abductee.
Thank you, Sung-hee, and please keep us updated as the story develops.


Reporter : ssung86@arirang.co.kr

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