By Al Russell.
Tripoli, 14 August:
An Iranian delegation arrived in Tripoli yesterday, to join the investigation into the abduction of seven employees of the Iranian Red Crescent in Benghazi on 31 July.
The Iranians are not expected to visit Benghazi, and will instead liaise with government authorities in Tripoli, Abdulhamid Elmadani, the General Secretary of the Libyan Red Crescent, told the Libya Herald yesterday. He said that the delegation is being led by the deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, Hassan Gashgafi, and includes the chairman of the Iranian Red Crescent.
Both Elmedani and the Iranian ambassador in Libya, Hussein Akbari, stressed that the location of the hostages remained a mystery and that they had no indication as to when the group might be released.
“We do not know exactly who was behind the kidnapping, but we have heard unconfirmed reports that the group are alive and well.” the General Secretary told the Libya Herald.
The seven were abducted at around 1 a.m. on 31 July when their vehicle was stopped by gunmen as they returned to the Hotel Tibesti from the headquarters of the Libyan Red Crescent.
It was confirmed last week that their kidnappers were Islamic extremists, but the organisation responsible has not been identified. It is thought that they abducted the group due to concerns that their presence in the country was an attempt to spread Shiite Islam.
The Red Crescent is a non-religious, non-political humanitarian organisation and the Iranian Red Crescent was operating in Libya at the invitation of the Libyan Red Crescent.