Abducted Serb embassy staff likely killed in US airstrike in Libya | News | DW | 20.02.2016
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Abducted Serb embassy staff likely killed in US airstrike in Libya

Two abducted staff from Serbia's embassy in Libya were killed in a US airstrike on a suspected "Islamic State" training camp, Serbia announced. The airstrike is believed to have also killed a top IS operative.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic (pictured) said Sladjana Stankovic, a communications officer, and Jovica Stepic, a driver, were "probably" killed in Friday's US airstrike on an extremist training camp near the border with Tunisia.

"We received information yesterday afternoon that several foreign nationals were killed in that attack, including the two workers of our embassy," Dacic told a press conference on Saturday.

Dacic said Serbia had been in negotiations with the kidnappers to secure the release of its embassy staff, but the demands were "impossible" to meet.

Later in the day, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic confirmed that Stankovic and Stepic had been killed in the incident.

"We talked to the Americans today about everything that happened, and they most likely had no information that the building contained foreign nationals," he told reporters.

The two Serbs were kidnapped in November after a convoy, including the ambassador's vehicle, was rammed and fired on by extremists near the coastal Libyan city of Sabratha. Ambassador Oliver Potezica and his family were unharmed.

NATO to follow Russia's example

Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, extended their condolences to the victims' families and called on the US to follow international law.

"We urge the US and other NATO countries to choose their targets responsibly and carefully – the way the Russian air force is acting in Syria," Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zaharova said in a statement.

The Friday incident was "far from the first NATO strike to claim innocent lives," she said.

IS on the move in Libya

Airstrikes on an alleged "Islamic State" (IS) training camp in Sabratha on Friday killed at least 40 people, the US Department of Defense reported.

Among those believed to have been killed was a senior member of the group who was alleged to have orchestrated last year's attacks on the Bardo museum and the Sousse beach resort in Tunisia last year, which killed dozens of tourists.

The US and Europe are increasing counterterrorism efforts in Libya as IS strengthens its presence in the oil-rich North African state.

cw/dj/jm (AFP, AP)

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