Two Tunisian journalists, missing in Libya for a year, are still alive the Tunisian Foreign Minister said on Monday, bringing fresh hope to their families eight months after the Islamic State group claimed to have killed them.
Minister Taieb Baccouche told private radio station Jawhara FM he had “irrefutable proof” that investigative journalist Sofiene Chourabi and photographer Nadhir Ktari “are alive”. They were abducted in the Eastern district of Ajdabiya last September while on assignment just days after they had been seized by an armed group near the northeastern town of Brega but released.
“We are trying to bring them back to Tunisia,” Baccouche added, declining to give further details.
In January IS affiliates in Libya released a photo purportedly “proving” they had executed the pair, but it was never confirmed.
In April Tunisia sent a team of investigators to the area to try to locate them but were forced to largely abandon their efforts because of the difficulty of the situation on the ground.
In the same month the internationally-recognized government said ex-IS fighters in their custody had admitted to killing five other journalists – an Egyptian and four Libyans – working for Libya Barqa TV channel.
The Barqa journalists had been missing since August 2014, when they were kidnapped by heavily-armed masked militants at a checkpoint on a desert road outside Is’s former stronghold of Derna.
At least nine journalists have been killed in Libya – and dozens attacked – since 2012, according to Human Rights Watch who have urged the Libyan authorities to do all they can to protect reporters in the country.