The Indians were being held captive by an armed group in Libya's Zwara City after they were trafficked from India
A group of 17 Indian nationals from Punjab and Haryana has been successfully evacuated to India after being freed from captivity in Libya. They had been detained in Libya since February 2023.

The Indians safely reached India on Sunday (August 20, 2023) evening by a Gulf Air flight. This followed sustained efforts by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian Embassy in Tunisia, which is also looking after Libya, people familiar with the matter said.

The Indian nationals are said to have arrived in Libya after being duped by travel agents under the pretext of lucrative jobs in Italy. The case was brought to the attention of the Indian Embassy in Tunis on May 26, 2023 by the family members of the stranded Indian nationals. The Indians were being held captive by an armed group in Zwara City in Libya after they trafficked from India. Since then, the Indian Embassy had been in close touch with the family members, said people who tracked developments in the case.

According to them, the Indian Embassy
regularly pursued the matter with Libyan authorities throughout May and June, as well as through informal channels. On June 13, 2023, the Libyan authorities were able to rescue the Indian nationals, but kept them in their custody given that they had illegally entered the country.

Following high level intervention by the Indian Ambassador in Tunis and senior MEA officials from New Delhi, the Libyan authorities agreed to release them.

During their stay in Libya, the Indian Embassy looked after the needs of the Indians, including providing essential food items, medicines and clothes. Since they did not have passports, Emergency Certificates were issued for their travel to India. Tickets for return to India were also provided and paid for by the Indian Embassy.

In June this year, nine Indian citizens who had been held hostage by a local militia in Libya for several months were freed by their captors and returned home to India. Their ordeal began in February 2023, when the commercial ship they were working on broke down close to the coast of Libya, leaving them stranded.

The Greek-owned ship flying the flag of Cameroon was delivering oil supplies from Malta to Tripoli. Seizing the opportunity, a local militia took them captive, leading to a distressing ordeal that lasted for many weeks.

The incident came to light when the group contacted the Indian Embassy in Tunis. They informed the Indian authorities of their dire situation and said that they had been abducted by the militia. The Indian Embassy immediately took up the matter with the Libyan authorities to ensure their safety and eventual repatriation to India.