S. Korean trade group official kidnapped in Libya

Jan. 20, 2014 at 10:22 AM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The local director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency was kidnapped as he was returning to his home in Tripoli, Libyan officials said.

Police said Han Seok-woo was snatched from his vehicle Sunday by four armed men, the Libya Herald reported Monday.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul confirmed the abduction, saying it didn't know why Han would be kidnapped, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

"The culprits' car stopped Han's car driven by an Iraqi driver, and they picked him up and drove away westward," a Foreign Ministry official said. The driver was not kidnapped.

The Herald said officials had not received a ransom demand.

The ministry set up a task force to work on Han's release and asked the Libyan government's cooperation to locate the kidnappers, Yonhap said.

"South Korea will make utmost efforts and use all the channels, public and private, including the Libyan Embassy in Seoul, to win the safe release of him as soon as possible," the ministry official said.

After the kidnapping, the Foreign Ministry issued a special travel warning about Libya, banning South Koreans from traveling to the country. Under the warning, South Korean residents in Libya, estimated to be about 550 as of Monday, were advised to leave the country for safer places.

The trade agency sent its Middle East regional head to Tripoli to work with the South Korean Embassy in Tripoli as part of the rescue efforts, Yonhap said.

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