Italian engineer kidnapped in Libya

Two European engineers kidnapped in Libya at the weekend have been freed, while Rome is working for the release of their Italian colleague, officials said on Monday.

Italian engineer kidnapped in Libya
The Libyan army guards the entrance to the capital Tripoli in May 2014. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP

The three men – Bosnian Petar Matic, Macedonian Miljazin Gafuri and Italian Marco Vallisay – went missing on Saturday.

Italy's foreign ministry said the Bosnian and Macedonian had been released and brought to the Italian embassy in the western port city of Zuwara.

Rome will continue with "all activities…to reach as soon as possible a positive solution for our compatriot," the ministry said.

The trio were working for Italian construction company Piacentini Costruzioni on the modernization of the port at Zuwara, a project worth some €37 million.

Authorities in Sarajevo and Skopje confirmed the release of their nationals.

Libya has been awash with weapons since the end of the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi and has been gripped by increasing lawlessness.

Diplomats in Tripoli say militias who took part in the revolt now often carry out kidnappings to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans they hold.

Previous abductions this year saw a Tunisian diplomat and fellow embassy staffer and the Jordanian ambassador to the country kidnapped in separate attacks.

The Tunisians were released after months in captivity, while the ambassador, seized by masked gunmen in April, was freed after a month in exchange for a Libyan jihadist who was sent to serve the rest of his prison sentence at home.

Another Italian engineer, Gianluca Salviato, who disappeared in Libya last March, remains missing.

SEE ALSO: Italians advised to leave Libya after clashes

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Libya conference to be held in Sicily in November: Italy

A Libya conference will be held in Sicily in November, Italy's foreign minister said Tuesday, with talks focusing on an "inclusive approach" to stabilising the war-torn north African country while not fixating on a date for elections.

Libya conference to be held in Sicily in November: Italy
The coastline of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The peace conference in Palermo on November 12 and 13 will aim to “identify the stages of a stabilisation process”, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi told the Senate.

The meeting would drive towards “a common solution, even if there are differences of opinion between the parties involved”, he said.

Four key leaders from Libya agreed at a conference in Paris in May to hold landmark polls on December 10 as part of a French-led plan to stabilise the crisis-hit country despite ongoing violence and deep divisions.

France, however, has faced opposition to the election timetable from the United States along with other European Union countries, notably Italy.

Milanesi said he had received “confirmation of interest” in the conference from Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar as well as support from the US, and was planning on discussing the dossier with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.

“No deadlines will be imposed on the Libyans, nor tasks dictated,” Milanesi said.

Italy, a key supporter of the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, said in September it wants to “maintain an active dialogue” with all well-intentioned actors in Libya.

The Libyan capital has been at the centre of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was driven from power and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Sarraj's Government of National Accord has been unable to form a functioning army or regular security forces and has been forced to rely on militias to keep Tripoli safe.

Militias formed the backbone of the uprising that toppled Kadhafi.

Since then rival administrations, including one allied with Haftar and based in the remote east, and the militias have competed for authority and oil wealth in the North African country.

Accused by his opponents of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship, Haftar refuses to recognise the authority of Sarraj's Tripoli-based GNA.