Two Libyan journalists were abducted in a former stronghold of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi after covering the North African country’s historic elections, media freedom groups said, highlighting the ongoing instability after last year’s war.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said reporter-cameraman Abdelqadir Fassouk and cameraman Yusuf Badi, who both work for the Misrata-based Tobacts TV station, disappeared on Saturday near Bani Walid, one of the last Gaddafi strongholds to fall during the eight-month conflict.
The journalists had covered the elections in the western town of Mizdah and were headed back to the TV station, based Libya’s third largest city Misrata. Tobacts TV lost contact with the journalists at 5 p.m. on Saturday and reported their disappearance to the interior ministry five hours later, the committee cited a Tobacts TV spokesman saying, Reuters reports.
Reporters Without Borders said their captors have reportedly demanded the release of detainees in Misrata in return for freeing the two journalists. Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour demanded their immediate release.
“The freedom of movement for journalists in their country is a reserved right… The government strongly condemns the detention of the two journalists,” he told a news conference late on Tuesday.
While Bani Walid was a former Gaddafi stronghold, Misrata was one of the first cities to protest against his rule during last year’s uprising.
The interim government has struggled to impose its authority on a myriad of armed groups who refuse to lay down their weapons and at times take the law into their own hands and detain people.