Turkey says 6 nationals held in Libya, vows to respond

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar looks on before posing for a family picture during the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels on June 27, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 June 2019

Turkey says 6 nationals held in Libya, vows to respond

  • Turkey said 6 of its nationals were being held by a Libyan force and vowed to respond to any attacks
  • The comments came after Haftar called Turkish assets in Libya 'legitimate targets,' accusing Ankara of helping rival militias

ANKARA: Turkey said on Sunday six of its nationals were being held by forces of Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar after earlier warning Ankara was ready to retaliate against attacks.
Haftar has ordered attacks on Turkish ships and interests after he recently lost ground to the UN-recognized Libyan government which is also backed by Turkey.
“The detention of six of our citizens by illegal militia forces linked to Haftar is an act of thuggery and piracy. We expect our citizens to be immediately released,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Should this not happen, Haftar elements will become legitimate targets,” it added.
But the ministry did not give any details on where the Turks were being held or when they had been taken by the forces.
A ministry source told AFP there was “no additional information to give at this stage.”
Haftar’ instructed the Libyan National Army (LNA) to target Turkish companies, ban flights and arrest Turkish nationals in Libya, his spokesman said Friday.
After a NATO-backed uprising that led to dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s death in 2011, Libya was propelled into chaos with militias fighting for control of the country.
Haftar was a retired general who had taken part in the revolt against Qaddafi but in May 2014, he launched his assault to purge the country of extremist terrorists.
The LNA, which holds eastern Libya and much of the country’s south, launched an offensive to take the capital Tripoli in early April.
Anti-Haftar forces recently retook the strategic town of Gharyan in a surprise attack and a major setback for the commander.
Earlier on Sunday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar warned there would be a “heavy price for hostile attitudes or attacks,” in comments to state news agency Anadolu.
“We will retaliate in the most effective and strong way,” Akar said.
He said Turkey’s efforts in Libya sought to “contribute to peace” in the region.
“It should be known that we have taken all kinds of measures to deal with any threat or antagonistic action against Turkey,” Akar added.
He emphasised Turkey’s push to support a political solution in Libya would continue and said Turkish efforts were in line with international law and agreements.
Turkey has a keen interest in Libya, especially since it had been part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912 when the north African country was conquered by Italy.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed his country backs the so-called interim Government of National Accord (GNA) and provides weapons to it under a “military cooperation agreement.”


Jordanian charged with ‘terror’ over tourist stabbings

Updated 17 min 16 sec ago

Jordanian charged with ‘terror’ over tourist stabbings

  • The suspect, Moustafa Abourouis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison
  • Prosecutors accused Abourouis of committing a “terrorist act” and “promoting the ideas of a terrorist group”

AMMAN: A Jordanian court on Sunday levelled “terrorism” charges against a man suspected of wounding eight people in a November knife attack at a popular tourist site.
The suspect, Moustafa Abourouis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison after the stabbing of three Mexicans, a Swiss woman, a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer at the Roman city of Jerash.
At a hearing open to the press, prosecutors accused Abourouis of committing a “terrorist act” and “promoting the ideas of a terrorist group” — a reference to the Daesh group.
Abourouis, who is of Palestinian origins and grew up in the refugee camp of Souf, was arrested immediately after the attack at Jerash, close to the camp and around 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Amman.
The Jordanian prosecutor accused Abourouis of trying to join Daesh, an operative of which in Syria had “ordered him to commit attacks against foreigners.”
Two alleged accomplices, also Jordanians of Palestinian origin, were charged with “terrorism” in the same case. All three pleaded not guilty.
The court is scheduled to hear witnesses next Sunday, with the date for a verdict to be confirmed.
It was not the first time a Jordanian tourist attraction has been attacked.
In December 2016, in Karak, home to one of the region’s biggest Crusader castles, 10 people — seven police, two Jordanian civilians and a Canadian tourist — were killed in an attack that also left 30 wounded.
That attack was claimed by Daesh and 10 people were later convicted of carrying out the assault, two of them sentenced to death.
Tourism is a key lifeline for Jordan, a country lacking in natural resources and reliant on foreign aid. The sector accounted for 14 percent of GDP in 2019.
The kingdom, bordering conflict-torn Syria and Iraq, has been working to revive its tourism industry and aims to attract seven million holidaymakers a year.