Tripoli — A rebel group has released six medical workers it kidnapped two weeks ago in northwestern Libya.
They were part of a larger humanitarian convoy on its way to the town of Ghadames, where they were to provide free medical care. Men armed with rifles abducted the care workers at a mountainous area.
It is believed the captors were trying to gain leverage for the release of a man imprisoned in the capital Tripoli for undisclosed reasons.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said authorities should ensure that the captors are held to account.
"Nothing can justify grabbing medical workers and holding them as bargaining chips for the release of an imprisoned man," said Eric Goldstein, HRW deputy regional director.
He said authorities in Zintan, where the victims were freed, must hold the captors to account to deter future attacks of this type
Political and military authorities in Zintan are divided in their loyalties between the two rival governments that are vying for legitimacy in Libya.
The internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the interim government based in the east are battling for control.
The divisions emerged before General Khalifa Hiftar, commander of the armed group known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), initiated a military campaign in April against the GNA in Tripoli.
The local armed group that abducted the six medical workers is affiliated with pro-LNA groups in Zintan.