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Kidnapped Korean trade official reportedly ‘freed in Libya’

AFP-JIJI

A South Korean trade official who was kidnapped in Libya has been freed three days after he was taken hostage by armed men, a report said Thursday.

Han Seok-woo, the head of the Libya unit of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), was freed Wednesday by Libyan gunmen who were then arrested, Yonhap news agency reported, citing an official.

He is now being protected by the Libyan government, and will soon be handed over to the South Korean Embassy, Yonhap reported the official as saying, adding there was “no problem” with Han’s health.

Han was kidnapped in the capital of Tripoli on his way home after work on Sunday, a foreign ministry official who declined to be named said at the time of the abduction.

The kidnap took place amid the ongoing political instability that began after the ouster and hanging of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Han was captured by four unidentified gunmen who dragged him out of his car, shoved him into their own vehicle and drove away, while leaving his Iraqi driver behind, according to the official.

Han has worked in the KOTRA office in Tripoli since 2012, Yonhap said, citing Seoul officials.

Libya has been plagued by violence and sporadic armed unrest in many parts of the country since Gadhafi’s overthrow.

Its deputy industry minister was shot dead last week and Tripoli declared a state of emergency Saturday after fresh clashes with armed groups in the south.