Ransom may have secured release of Briton in Libya

A British man who had been held hostage by militants in Libya has been released, the British Foreign Office said.

Ransom may have secured release of Briton in Libya

David Bolam was freed days after the killing of a British hostage, aid worker Alan Henning, by Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria — the latest in a series of executions that have been posted online.

The British Foreign Office gave no further details of who had held Mr Bolam or how he had been released. British media reported he had been taken hostage in May. In August, he appeared in a video online pleading for his life.

The BBC reported that his release was secured through the payment of a ransom, facilitated by local political factions in Benghazi, where he worked as a teacher.

It cited no sources and the Foreign Office, which does not support the payment of ransoms, declined to comment on the report.

Libya is being racked by violence as the armed groups that helped to topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 turn their guns on each other in a struggle for the country’s vast oil resources and political domination.

Details of who had kidnapped the British man were not clear, and local Libyan officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on the release.

Benghazi is the base to several Islamist militant groups, including those Washington blames for the attack on the US consulate in the city in 2012, during which the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libya’s fragile government has struggled to control powerful armed factions who fought together in the 2011 revolt, but now battle each other and challenge the state for control of the post-war spoils.

A broad movement formed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has executed four foreign hostages. But in Libya armed groups are highly fractured, often forming loose alliances for specific objectives.

At the end of last year, gunmen shot dead an American chemistry teacher working at a school in Benghazi. A month later, a British man and a woman from New Zealand were executed as they picnicked on a beach in the west.

Meanwhile, militants from the Islamic State group yesterday publicly killed six Iraqi soldiers captured in an embattled western province where the extremists continue to advance despite an expanding US-led campaign of airstrikes, residents said.

The killings took place in the town of Hit, about 140km west of the capital, Baghdad

The US Central Command said yesterday it conducted six airstrikes in Iraq the previous day, including one in Hit in which it destroyed two Islamic State Humvees. The US military also conducted four airstrikes in the nearby city of Fallujah, and in northern Iraq, it conducted one strike in the town of Sinjar.

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