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March 7, 2015

Czech citizen among the missing after IS attack on Libyan oil field

Cabinet will assess situation on Monday; government recommends people avoid Libya

Prague, March 7 (ČTK) — A Czech citizen is among several people who have been missing since IS militants’ armed attack on an oil field in Libya on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronová told the Czech News Agency today, adding that the Cabinet will discuss the situation on Monday.

The ministry recommends that people do not travel to Libya or seek a job there.

Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Social Democrats, ČSSD) told Czech Television that Islamic State (IS) militants probably made the Friday attack.

The situation in the region is turbulent, which is why people should consider [whether to accept] job opportunities there. The missing Czech citizen worked for an international oil company, Zaorálek said.

The missing persons might have been kidnapped. Zaorálek indicated this on Czech Radio when he said the ministry is trying to find out what happened at the oil field and also the missing Czech’s whereabouts and possible ways to achieve his release.

Former Czech foreign minister Cyril Svoboda (Christian Democrats, KDU-ČSL), too, said the people were probably kidnapped. IS is not interested in any negotiations, Svoboda said on ČT.

Zaorálek said people should not be travelling to any part of Libya including the capital Tripoli.

“Fighting between militia has been underway in the southeastern part of the city, the international airport in Tripoli is out of operation, the present government is not in control of the situation. We recommend that all Czech citizens leave the country,” the Foreign Ministry writes on its website.

It says the Czech diplomatic mission in Tripoli has been temporarily closed down, therefore it cannot provide any consular help to Czechs. In the case of urgent need, they should contact the Czech embassy in Cairo.

According to the AFP agency, extremist supporters of Islamic State attacked the Ghani oil field in southern Libya, killing 11 local guards. The government forces eventually regained control of the area.

In connection with the events, Minister Zaorálek today convoked the emergency team including Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) and representatives of secret services, Lagronová said.

She said Czech authorities have been in contact with the missing Czech’s family.

The Czech government will take all measures for the Czech to be found as quickly as possible. It has been exchanging information with the authorities of Austria, whose citizen, too, is among those missing. Lagronová said.

Libya has been tormented by chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. There have been two governments and two parliaments. In the meantime, IS militants try to use the confusion to gain influence.

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