Update June 1: Photo of kidnapped doctor added to the story, released by Jalu Medical Services Office, Libya
Islamic State (IS) militants may have captured a North Korean doctor and his wife in Libya, a local media source suggested on Monday.
“(They were kidnapped) when they were on their way to Tripoli after having finished their duty in Jalu hospital, while their car driver was released yesterday,” the Libya Observer, a social media-only news service said on Monday.
“A source from inside the hospital indicated that the sixty-year-old NKorean doctor has been working in Jalu for years, reaffirming that the North Korean embassy is keeping a round-the-clock contact with different parties to find out his and his wife’s whereabouts,” the outlet added.
The Libya Observer’s Facebook page, the main place it publishes news, claims to be based in Tripoli, Libya.
No further corroboration of the story was offered, with South Korea’s Yonhap News reporting a source as saying there would be “no reason” for IS to abduct North Korean doctors.
If true, it is uncertain whether North Korea will pay any ransom fees to secure their release, as is customarily required to free hostages in kidnappings by IS.
Similar questions about North Korea’s capacity to pay ransoms for overseas citizens were posed when a North Korean ship was captured by pirates near Somalia in 2010.
In 2010, during the civil war in Libya, rumors emerged stating that Pyongyang had banned its diplomats and foreign workers in Libya from returning to North Korea. At the time, Yonhap said the move was an “apparent attempt to prevent the popular uprisings in the Arab world from reaching the isolated regime”.
Korea was last in the Libyan news in April, when the Islamic State attacked the South Korean embassy in Tripoli, killing one guard and injuring another. No South Korean nationals were killed in the attack, it was reported at the time.
Main picture: E. Lafforgue
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Featured Image: Human zoo or hospital - Pyongyang North Korea by Eric Lafforgue on 2008-09-08 08:32:31