On Monday, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) claimed they kidnapped 20 foreign doctors and nurses in Sirte, Libya. Arab media reported the majority of the kidnapped came from the Philippines, while others were from Ukraine, Serbia, and India. However, reports from the respective countries contradict the terrorist group.
The Philippine government claimed only four nurses were reported kidnapped, but rather than having been abducted with the larger group, they had escaped the Islamic State attack. Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose reached out to the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli. One of the allegedly kidnapped nurses told the embassy “they were all safe.” A friend was concerned for the nurses and took them “from their accommodation to a ‘safer place.’”
“Our embassy in Tripoli verified this information and the four Filipinos were not actually kidnapped,” explained Jose. “They were actually taken from their accommodation to a safer place, and our charge d’affaires from our embassy has actually talked to one of them and they said they are safe.”
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that the kidnappers released 15 Ukrainian doctors from custody on the condition that they cannot leave Sirte. Officials within the ministry and the Ukrainian Embassy helped release the doctors after “operational measures.” Members of the Ukrainian diplomatic mission in Libya reached out to the doctors in order “to help facilitate their return to Ukraine.”
Serbian Ambassador to Libya Oliver Potezica told the media that the kidnappers did not take any Serbian citizens.
“We have verified all information and we established that, according to the information that we have gathered, no Serbian citizens have been kidnapped in Sirte,” he announced.
There are nine Serbian citizens within Sirte, but none have any plans to leave. Potezica assured the media the embassy is in contact with all of them.
If the original estimate of 20 kidnapped individuals was correct, the updates from the respective governments does not account for between one and five of those kidnapped—the Filipino nurses may not count as part of the larger group of 20, as publications like Radio Free Europe described the group as “doctors,” not just medical staff.
The staff were at the bus stop to leave the city due to the “deteriorating security situation.” Sirte, which is directly between Tripoli and Benghazi, was the “final major stronghold” of former dictator Moammar Gaddafi. Opposition members murdered him in the city.