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Libya PM Zidan calls for calm after abduction ordeal

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan has appealed for calm in his first comments since being freed from captivity earlier on Thursday. His abduction was in apparent retaliation for the US capture of an al Qaeda suspect.

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Libyan prime minister free after kidnapping

The Libyan prime minister appeared live on television on Thursday just hours after his release was confirmed. Ali Zidan was seized from his hotel and held for several hours by suspected former rebel militiamen in the early hours of the morning.

"Libyans need wisdom ... not escalation ... to deal with this situation," he said during a televised cabinet meeting. "There are many things that need dealing with."

Reports differ on the nature of Zidan's release, although it appears the abductors did not release the prime minister voluntarily.

Zidan offered little further detail during the cabinet meeting, although he thanked some militia who reportedly helped secure his freedom, urging them to join Libya's military forces.

The prime minister's abduction underlines the lawlessness still gripping the North African state two years after the western-back ouster of autocrat Moammar Gadhafi. The vulnerable central government is struggling to control multiple tribal militias, many of them made up of Islamist militants, who control large parts of the country.

The motive for Zidan's pre-dawn seizure was not immediately known, however it came just five days after US commandos captured al Qaida suspect Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, angering many militia groups. They accused the Libya government of colluding in the operation which saw al-Ruqai, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi, taken from the streets of the capital Tripoli. He is now being held on a US warship.

Zidan was a long-time opponent of ex-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He was elected to lead the Libyan transitional government last year.

ccp/slk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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