British office says man held in Libya released

AFP and Reuters, LONDON

Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 6

British teacher David Bolam has been released after being held hostage in Libya for about five months, the British Foreign Office said on Saturday.

Officials said they were “glad that David Bolam is safe and well after his ordeal and that he has been reunited with his family.”

It did not give further details, but Bolam was kidnapped by militants in May in Libya’s second city, Benghazi, much of which is under the control of Muslim extremists.

Bolam’s release was secured through the payment of a ransom, facilitated by local political factions in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, where he worked as a teacher, the BBC reported without citing sources.

The office, which does not support the payment of ransoms, declined to comment on the BBC report.

Bolam is a teacher at an international school in Benghazi. A US teacher from the same school was shot dead in December.

The SITE intelligence group identified a video posted on YouTube last month of Bolam appealing for British Prime Minister David Cameron to help secure his release.

The video, apparently recorded in August, was released by a group that called itself Jeish al-Islam, or Army of Islam, but SITE could not authenticate it due to a lack of information.

Libya has been sliding into chaos since former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in an uprising three years ago, with interim authorities confronted by powerful militias that fought to oust him.

The cradle of the uprising against Qaddafi, Benghazi is now regularly the scene not only of fighting, but also the murders of members of the security forces, political activists and journalists.