Africa

Libya PM Zeidan's brief kidnap was 'attempted coup'

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Media captionAli Zeidan: "This bears the hallmarks of an attempted coup d'etat against legitimacy"

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said his brief kidnap this week was an "attempted coup", blaming his political opponents for the attack.

In a TV address to the nation, he said an unnamed political party in the congress was behind the abduction.

Ali Zeidan was seized from a Tripoli hotel on Thursday and held for several hours by armed militiamen.

He praised the armed groups that came to rescue him and later called for calm in the increasingly lawless country.

'Dangerous minority'

In the TV address with members of his cabinet standing staunchly around him, Mr Zeidan said that his kidnap "bears the hallmarks of an attempted coup d'etat against legitimacy".

"A political party", he said, was behind what he described as the "criminal and terrorist act".

Referring to his political opponents as a "dangerous minority", the prime minister said they had tried to secure enough votes in the congress to have him dismissed.

"When they failed to bring down the government through democratic means, they resorted to the use of force," he added.

Mr Zeidan's speech shed light on a internal political struggle that has long been seen as the source of Libya's lack of progress since the end of 2011, when Col Muammar Gaddafi was ousted, the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says.

Mr Zeidan has previously spoken of the conservative parties in the assembly trying to undermine his government, and many now will be watching to see if this latest short-lived abduction will become a game-changer in Libya's political landscape, our correspondent adds.

The US, UK and France, along with the UN, have condemned the abduction and pledged their support for Libya's transition to democracy.

The motive of the abduction is unclear but some militias had been angered by last Saturday's US commando raid in Tripoli to capture senior al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Liby.

Many militias are under the pay of the defence or interior ministries - in the absence of an effective police force or military - but their allegiance and who really controls them is in doubt.

'Resident brigades'

Mr Zeidan was taken in a pre-dawn raid on the Corinthia Hotel by more than 100 armed men.

Photographs showed Mr Zeidan being surrounded and led away. There were no reports of violence during his capture.

The prime minister was reportedly held at the interior ministry anti-crime department in Tripoli, where an official said he was treated well.

The BBC has been told that local armed residents backed by brigades from nearby districts had rescued the PM, our correspondent says.