By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 17 March 2015:
Foreign medical workers at Sirte’s Ibn Sina Hospital have been evacuated to . . .[restrict]safety following reports of a mass kidnapping by Islamic State in the town.
A source from the Misrata based Libya Dawn told the Libya Herald foreign workers had been evacuated from the medical facility but declined to give further details.
Reports emerged yesterday claiming as many as 20 staff from the Ukraine, the Philippines, India and Serbia had been kidnapped from Ibn Sina hospital by IS.
Officials from the Ukraine and the Philippines have now confirmed their nationals from the hospital are out of harm’s way.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign affairs has explained that 15 doctors were taken hostage by the extremist group but were later released following a diplomatic intervention.
“Armed persons associated with the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’, kidnapped a group of 15 physicians who work in the Libyan hospital Ibn Sina,” the Ukranian statement read.
“Thanks to operational activities by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ukrainian embassy in Libya, the Ukrainians were released on the same day,” it added.
Filipino authorities have explained that none of their citizens was kidnapped for any length of time but that confusion arose after they left the hospital with a friend who was trying to help them.
“A local friend who was concerned for their safety had taken the nurses from their accommodation to a safer place,” the Filipino Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Manilla daily the Sun Star.
“Our embassy in Tripoli verified this information and the four Filipinos were not actually kidnapped,” it explained, adding that the Filipino embassy in Tripoli had been in contact with the workers.
Yesterday CNN quoted a medical official in Sirte as saying Islamic State had taken the hostages because they needed the foreign workers to treat their injured.
In the past Ansar Al-Sharia in Benghazi has seized Indian and Ukrainian medical personnel and forced them to treat its wounded fighters.
Civilians have been leaving Sirte in droves since fighting erupted there between Libya Dawn and Islamic State two days ago.
Misratan Libya Dawn forces claimed to have killed 17 Islamic State fighters and lost two of their own, on Sunday in battles the town. Yesterday they said they had killed a further six militants at a checkpoint in southern Sirte.
Libya Dawn said it had previously held back from a direct assault on the town for fear of civilian casualties. It also seems to be concerned about its military capacity being overstretched, by involvement in the stalled attack on Sidra and deployments to the south at Sebha and to the west of Tripoli. [/restrict]