Seoul said it had deployed a warship to Libya in an apparent show of force to secure the release of a South Korean national kidnapped along with three Filipinos in the North African country.
The 4,000-tonne vessel, Munmu the Great, which takes part in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, was now on its way to Libya, officials said on Thursday, August 2.
In addition to “carrying out its duty of protecting commercial vessels, [the destroyer] is also preparing for all possibilities including the need for military support,” a defence ministry spokesman told AFP, without elaborating further.
President Moon Jae-in’s office has “ordered the government to do its utmost with all resources the country has,” spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said in a statement.
The three Filipino engineers and a South Korean were abducted in an attack on a water project site in western Libya on July 6. The authority managing the Great Man-made River Project has demanded the release of the workers.
Several Libyan workers who were taken along with the foreign men were later released, Reuters reported an official as saying last month.
The Filipino and South Korean governments confirmed the four men were featured in a video shared on social media this week. The video shows the four men addressing the camera in English.
An armed guard is pictured squatting behind them in the sand, but their captors are not identified and the attack has not been claimed by any group. It was not clear when the video was shot.
“The Philippine embassy in Tripoli has confirmed that the three men in the video are the three Filipino technicians who [were] taken by armed men in Libya last month,” Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Elmer Cato told AFP.
Moon’s spokesperson Kim said Seoul was “maintaining a close cooperation system with the government of Libya and other allies, such as the Philippines and the United States, since the day of the incident” for the release of the South Korean national.
Since former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was ousted from power and killed in 2011, foreign workers and diplomatic missions have frequently been targeted by militias or jihadists such as Islamic State.
With reporting from AFP