Italian engineer kidnapped in Libya, 2 other Europeans missing: Official

ROME (AFP) - An Italian engineer working in Libya was kidnapped at the weekend, the Foreign Ministry in Rome said on Sunday, while two other Europeans were reported missing in the same attack.

"We can confirm that one of our citizens has been kidnapped," a spokesman at the Italian Foreign Ministry said.

According to the Italian media, Mr Marco Vallisa and two co-workers from Bosnia and Macedonia disappeared from a coastal town in the west of Libya on Saturday.

Bosnia's Foreign Ministry said one of its citizens was missing "without being able to confirm immediately if he was kidnapped", while Macedonian officials had no information on the reports.

The trio were working for Italian construction company Piacentini Costruzioni on the modernisation of the port at Zuwara, a project worth some 37 million euros (S$62.7 million).

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

Diplomats in Tripoli say militias who took part in the uprising 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 only 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.

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