View of the town of Bani Walid in January
View of the town of Bani Walid in January 2012. Two Libyan journalists kidnapped while covering elections in the town of Bani Walid, a final bastion of fighters loyal to toppled leader Moamer Kadhafi, were released on Monday. © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
View of the town of Bani Walid in January
AFP
Last updated: July 16, 2012

Libyan journalists freed after election ordeal

Two Libyan journalists kidnapped while covering elections in the town of Bani Walid, a final bastion of fighters loyal to toppled leader Moamer Kadhafi, were released on Monday.

"The two have arrived in Misrata by helicopter," said Omar Abu Gadadeh, manager of the Misrata-based Thobacts television channel.

"They have gone to their respective homes. Both are in good health. They were stressed out but immediately felt better after seeing their families."

Yussef Badi and Abdelqader Fasuk were detained in Bani Walid on July 7 while covering Libya's first national elections since the ouster and death last year of long-time dictator Kadhafi.

Gadadeh said the two were interrogated by their captors and kept with their eyes covered and hands bound for most of the time they were in detention.

The two journalists were transferred from Bani Walid to the mountain town of Jadu on Sunday following a breakthrough in negotiations, sources familiar with the mediation said.

Suleiman Fortia, who represents Misrata on the ruling National Transitional Council, said they were finally released on Monday following a long night of talks between representatives of Misrata and Bani Walid.

"We agreed on improving relations between all cities in Libya," he said without elaborating.

The oasis town of Bani Walid, a final redoubt of Kadhafi loyalists, and the Mediterranean city of Misrata, fought on opposite sides during the 2011 conflict. Tensions between the two have been high ever since.

Local media reported that the journalists were being used by representatives of Bani Walid as bargaining chips to obtain a prisoner exchange. But Fortia said their release was unconditional.

Libya's interim authorities sent several delegations to Misrata and Bani Walid this week in a bid to soothe tensions.

Former rebels from Misrata had threatened to attack Bani Walid if the two journalists were not freed.

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