Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 11th 2013 Contents A29
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TRIPOLI---The abduction was brief
but still audacious: Gunmen from
one of Libya s many militias
stormed a hotel where the prime
minister has a residence and held
him for several hours yesterday---
apparently in retaliation for his
government s alleged collusion with
the US in a raid last weekend that
captured an al-Qaeda suspect.
The brazen seizure of Prime Min-
ister Ali Zidan heightened the alarm
over the power of unruly militias
that virtually hold the weak central
government hostage. Many of the
militias include Islamic militants and
have ideologies similar to al-Qaeda's.
The armed bands regularly use vio-
lence to intimidate officials to sway
policies, gunning down security offi-
cials and kidnapping their relatives.
At the same time, the state relies
on militias to act as security forces,
since the police and military remain
in disarray after dictator Muammar
Gaddafi was overthrown and killed
in 2011. The militias are rooted in
the brigades that fought in the upris-
ing and are often referred to as "rev-
Many militias are paid by the
defence or interior ministries---
which are in charge of the military
and police respectively---although
the ministries are still unable to con-
Not only was Zidan abducted by
militiamen who officially work in a
state body, it took other militias to
rescue him by storming the site
where he was held in the capital.
"The abduction is like the shock
that awakened Libyans. Facts on the
ground now are clearer than never
before: Libya is ruled by militias,"
said prominent rights campaigner
Zidan's abduction came before
dawn, when about 150 gunmen in
pickup trucks stormed the luxury
Corinthia Hotel in downtown Tripoli,
witnesses told the Associated Press.
They swarmed into the hobby and
some charged up to Zidan's residence
on the 21st floor.
The gunmen scuffled with Zidan's
guards before they seized him and
led him out at around 5.15 am, said
the witnesses, speaking on condition
of anonymity because they feared
for their own safety. They said Zidan
offered no resistance.
In the afternoon, government
spokesman Mohammed Kaabar told
the LANA news agency that Zidan
had been "set free."
A militia commander affiliated
with the interior ministry said his
fighters, along with armed groups
from two Tripoli districts, Souq
Jomaa and Tajoura, stormed the
house where Zidan was being held,
exchanged fire with the captors, and
"He is now safe in a safe place,"
said Haitham al-Tajouri, commander
of the Reinforcement Force, in an
interview with Al-Ahrar TV.
Zidan later appeared at a Cabinet
session that was broadcast live. He
thanked those who helped free him
but gave no details and avoided
blaming those behind the abduc-
"We hope this matter will be
treated with wisdom and rationality,
far from tension," he said.
"There are many things that need
The abduction was carried out by
two state-affiliated militia groups,
the Revolutionaries Operation Room
and the Anti-Crime Department.
They put out statements saying they
had "arrested" Zidan on accusations
of harming state security and cor-
ruption. The public prosecutor's
office said it had issued no such
The motive for the abduction was
not immediately known, but it came
after many militias and Islamic mil-
itants expressed outrage over the US
Delta Force raid Saturday that seized
al-Qaeda suspect Nazih Abdul-
Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias
Abu Anas al-Libi, from the street
outside his home in Tripoli.
Al-Libi is alleged to be a senior
al-Qaeda member and is wanted by
the US in connection with the 1998
bombings of its embassies in Tan-
zania and Kenya, with a $5 million
bounty on his head. US officials say
he is now being held on an US war-
ship. Several militia groups angrily
accused Zidan's government of col-
luding with the US in the operation
and allowing foreigners to seize a
Libyan on its own soil.
US secretary of state John Kerry
said he was pleased to hear of Zidan's
release and that Washington was
helping the Libyan government build
its security capacities.
"Libyans did not risk their lives
in the 2011 revolution to tolerate a
return to thuggery," he said in a state-
Outrage, alarm over security in Libya as...
Militia briefly abducts PM
NEW YORK---Facebook is getting rid of a privacy
feature that let users limit who can find them
on the social network.
Facebook Inc said yesterday that it is removing
a setting that controls whether users could be
found when people type their name into the Web
site's search bar.
Facebook says only a single-digit percentage
of the nearly 1.2 billion people on its network
were using the setting.
The change comes as Facebook is building out
its search feature, which people often use to find
people they know---or want to know---on the site.
Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, Cal-
ifornia, says users can protect their privacy by
limiting the audience for each thing they post
Users can no longer hide on Facebook
HELSINKI---A 16-year-old who
stabbed three fellow students and
a janitor yesterday had threatened
to shoot up his school earlier this
year but police judged at the time
that he was not a threat.
All four victims of the stabbing at
the vocational school in northern
Finland were seriously injured but
were in stable condition in a local
hospital. Their condition was not
life-threatening, Police Sgt Tommi
Deputy Police Chief Arto
Karnaranta said they had arrested
the suspect in the town of Oulu, 600
kilometre s (370 miles) north of the
capital, Helsinki. Karnaranta said the
suspect admitted to the stabbings
but did not disclose a motive.
Karnaranta said police had no
warning of the attack, but acknowl-
edged that the suspect had made
threats against the school in Febru-
"He had, on a games page on the
Internet, expressed the idea that he
would carry out a school shooting
at some stage ... saying that he would
kill the whole school' if he had a
gun," Karnaranta told reporters.
He said police found no weapons
at the time.
Karnaranta said police had ques-
tioned the boy and his family about
the February threat but released him
after being assured that had made it
on a whim and did not mean what
Three of the victims were ages 15
to 20, police said. The male janitor
was 20 or 21. Police did not give exact
ages. In 2008, a 22-year-old gunman
killed nine fellow students and a
teacher before shooting himself at a
vocational high school in western
Finland, less than a year after a
teenage student fatally shot eight
people and himself at a high school
near Helsinki. (AP)
4 students stabbed at Finland school
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, left, speaks at a press conference after being rescued from gunmen who snatched
him from his hotel early yesterday and held him for several hours in Tripoli Libya. The brazen abduction
underscored the lawlessness gripping Libya two years after the ouster of autocrat Moammar Gadhafi. AP PHOTO
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