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Benghazi security chief kidnapped

Jan. 3, 2013 at 11:55 AM

BENGHAZI, Libya, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The Libyan interior minister said Thursday he was on the lookout for those responsible for the kidnapping of an interim crime official in Benghazi.

Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi, the interim head of criminal investigations in Benghazi, was kidnapped at gunpoint while he traveled to his office, the Tripoli Post reports.

"First reports indicated that his kidnappers could be hard-line Islamists as he has made many enemies since he has been compiling files on so-called (Moammar) Gadhafi loyalists," the report stated.

The identity of the kidnappers isn't known. Libyan Interior Minister Ashour Shwayel pledged to "search for the officer and determine the identity of the perpetrators."

Four policemen were killed in December in Benghazi, a rebel stronghold during civil war in 2011. The city's police chief was assassinated in November and, in September, attacks on the U.S. consulate there left U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three staff members dead.

The U.S. State Department this week updated the travel advisory for Libya enacted following the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic outpost.

"The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable," the warning read. "Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country."

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