Serbia had been negotiating for their release
Two abducted Serbian embassy staffers were among the almost 50 killed in U.S. airstrikes on a suspected ISIS training camp in Libya, according to Serbia’s prime minister.
Prime minister Aleksandar Vucic confirmed Serbian communications officer Sladjana Stankovic and driver Jovica Stepic were abducted in November after their diplomatic envoy was ambushed near Sabratha, a Libyan coastal city, Reuters reports.
U.S. officials said the airstrike targeted an ISIS training camp used by up to 60 militants, including Noureddine Chouchane, who allegedly orchestrated two terrorist attacks in Tunisia last year that killed dozens of people. It was not immediately clear whether Chouchane was killed, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in a news conference Saturday that Serbia had been trying to negotiate the hostages’ release, but that ISIS demands had been “impossible” to meet. He said Serbia would send a protest note to the U.S. for not informing it about the raid.
It’s the second U.S. airstrike against ISIS in Libya in three months. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is more involved with the ISIS branch in Libya than any other, according to the UN Security Council, and the militant group has thrived in the chaos following the 2011 toppling of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.