TRIPOLI, July 15 Two Libyan journalists
kidnapped in a former stronghold of ousted leader Muammar
Gaddafi while covering the country's elections last week have
been released, a colleague and an official mediating in the
stand-off said on Sunday.
Reporter-cameraman Abdelqadir Fassouk and cameraman Yusuf
Badi disappeared on July 7 near Bani Walid - one of the last
Gaddafi strongholds to fall during an eight-month uprising.
The journalists, who work for the Misrata-based Tobacts TV
station, had been covering Libya's historic election for a
200-seat national assembly in the western town of Mizdah and
were on their way back to Misrata when contact with them was
"They have left Bani Walid by helicopter to Jadu and later
on they will travel to Misrata," said Fathi Yussef, part of a
team from the western town of Jadu which arrived in Bani Walid
on Saturday to negotiate the journalists' release.
Yussef said some detainees from Bani Walid being held in
Misrata would be released later as part of the negotiations.
Since the end of last year's uprising against Gaddafi, the
interim government has struggled to control a myriad armed
groups who refuse to lay down their weapons and often take the
law into their own hands and detain people.
Misrata was one of the first cities to join the revolt
against Gaddafi and has a history of rivalry with Bani Walid.
Local media said the captors of the journalists demanded the
release of detainees in Misrata in return for freeing them.
Omar Ghadaj, director of news at Tobacts TV, confirmed his
colleagues' release. "Delegates from Jadu received them, they
will be taken to Misrata later."
A group of elders had met Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib
on Saturday night to discuss the journalists.
Talks to free them collapsed last week hours before a
deadline given by a militia in Misrata for their release was due
to be reached. The militia had threatened to attack Bani Walid
and free the men by force.
"We have agreed that we need to find a solution for this not
to happen again. Elders from Bani Walid and Misrata will meet to
discuss and try to solve the problems," Jibril Grimida, a
spokesman for Bani Walid local council, said on Sunday.
(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian;
Editing by Pravin Char)