Just hours after being seized by a group of former rebels, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been set free and is apparently unharmed. Zeidan was taken from a hotel in Tripoli, early in the morning on Thursday, but was let go just a short time later.
The Libyan government says that Zeidan was kidnapped, but according to a group calling itself the Libyan Revolutionary Operations Chamber, the Prime Minister was "arrested under the Libyan penal code" due "damage to the country's sovereignty." The group was referring to the recent of Abu Anas al-Libi, an wanted al-Qaeda operative who arrested by U.S. forces in Libya last weekend.
The Libyan Revolutionary Operations Chamber is group of former rebels who fought against the country's former leader, Muammar Qaddafi, during the 2011 revolution. Technically, they are a legal militia that reports to Libyan defense ministry, but in practice operates almost entirely on their own orders. The fact they felt they had the authority — and obviously, the military strength — to arrest the head of state does not speak well for the status of the Libyan government.
According to Reuters, Zeidan was released after counterprotesters fired on the Interior Ministry building where he was being held.
Original Post: Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan was taken captive by gunmen early Thursday morning, according to the Libyan government. The statement says in part, that "The head of the transitional government, Ali Zeidan, was taken to an unknown destination for unknown reasons by a group," from a hotel in Tripoli where he was residing.
It is unclear exactly what group has taken Zeidan captive, but speculation points to factions angered by the capture of Abu Anas al-Libi on Saturday and attempts to capture suspects in the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack. Reports surfaced earlier today that Libya had tacitly approved such operations.
Zeidan had met with al-Libi's family earlier on Wednesday hours before his abduction.
Update 2:08 a.m.: Via the Associated Press, "A statement on the government's official website said Zidan was taken at dawn to an 'unknown location for unknown reasons' by a group believed to be 'revolutionaries' from a security agency known as the Anti-Crime Committee."
[Pictured: Footage of Zeidan provided to Al Arabiya by his captors]