India tries to secure release of remaining hostages

IS abduction: Family members of T Gopikrishna, Balaram keep their fingers crossed

India tries to secure release of remaining hostages

Two of the four Indians, who were abducted by Islamic State militants in Libya last Wednesday, will leave the conflict-hit North African country on Sunday, even as the government is trying to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

Mulbagal Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth Ramakrishna, who were released by the Islamic State militants on Friday, are now in Embassy of India in Tripoli and will reach Tunis on Sunday. Both hail from Karnataka and they are expected to return home early next week, official sources told Deccan Herald in New Delhi.

Both Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth taught in a University in Sirte – the hometown of slain dictator Muammer Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years. They and their two other colleagues – Balaram and Gopikrishna – were trying to leave Sirte and cross over to Tunisia to return to India when they were kidnapped by militants owing allegiance to the Islamic State last Wednesday.

Efforts by the Embassy of India in Tripoli and top brass of the University of Sirte resulted in the release of Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth on Friday.

The Islamic State militants handed them over to the varsity authorities. Two others, Balaram and Gopikrishna, who hail from Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad, were yet to be released.   

Officials of the Embassy of India in Tripoli facilitated travel of Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth to the capital city of Libya. They reached the embassy late at night on Friday.

Sources said they would travel to Tunis on Sunday and officials of the Embassy of India in the capital of Tunisia would facilitate their return to Bengaluru.  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is understood to be in touch with officials of the Indian embassies in Tunis and Tripoli and monitoring efforts to secure release of Gopikrishna and Balaram. Swaraj on Saturday received a letter from her colleague Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya who requested her to secure the release of the remaining two hostages.

“I am happy and congratulate the minister for external Affairs in getting release of two Indians from Karnataka. At the same time, I express my concern for the release of....Gopikrishna from AP and Balram from Telangana....who are still in the clutches of the militants,” wrote Dattatreya.

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