Korean trade official kidnapped in LibyaUpdated: 2014-01-21 03:44:52 (KST)
Korea's foreign ministry confirmed Monday that a Korean trade official was kidnapped by a group of unidentified armed men in Libya.
Han Seok-woo, the head of trade relations at the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in Libya, was taken by four armed men on his way home from work in Tripoli on Sunday evening local time.
The incident was reported by Han's driver to the Korean embassy, who said the kidnappers stopped their car and threatened both of them with weapons before taking Han in their car and heading west.
The identity and motive of the kidnappers remain unknown, although there is rising speculation that al-Qaeda may have been behind the abduction.
The incident is being viewed as having been pre-planned, either for money or to gain political leverage.
Officials in Seoul are working around the clock on the case.
The Korean government and KOTRA convened an emergency meeting early Monday morning to discuss the incident and a task force headed by the foreign ministry has also been set up.
"We must put all our efforts into resolving the incident in a swift manner, so that the kidnapped KOTRA official can return to his family as soon as possible."
Many parts of Libya have been hit by violence and unrest in recent years, with the capital of 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 and although there have been a number of robbery cases against Koreans in Libya in the past, this is the first time a Korean has been kidnapped.
"Seoul's 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.
It has also issued a special travel warning, banning all Koreans from traveling to Libya.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."
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