Iranians freed in Benghazi

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Members of the Iranian Red Crescent team together with Libyans

Benghazi, 6 October:

The seven Iranian Red Crescent officials who were kidnapped over two months ago in Benghazi were finally freed there today. The move came a day after the Secretary General of the Libyan Red Cross, Abdulhamid Elmedani, called for their release.

According to Qais Al-Fahkry from the Libyan Red Crescent, their freedom was negotiated by Benghazi local council and a number of Benghazi security bodies.

“At 6 o’clock we were called by Benghazi local council to go to (Benghazi’s) Benina Airport where we saw the Iranians,” Fahkry continued. He said that they had declared themselves to be in “excellent health” and were “very happy to be free”. There were no signs indicating that they have been mistreated or tortured, he added.

The team left Benghazi on a Turkish Airlines flight for Turkey and on to Iran. According to statement from the Iranian ambassador to Libya , they will be met by President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

The Iranian group had arrived in Libya at the invitation of the Benghazi-based Libyan Red Crescent on 30 July. They were kidnapped later during the night while returning from the Red Crescent headquarters to the Tibesti hotel. Their kidnappers never went public as to their motives although immediately after the abduction officials said that they had been told that the seven were being investigated to see if they had come to Libya to propagate Shiism.

It has been widely believed in Benghazi that the kidnappers were Islamist militants and that, despite denials, some officials were well aware of their identities. [/restrict]

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