TRIPOLI, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Rampant kidnapping of foreign workers by multinational criminal gangs has seriously worsened security in southern Libya, said a local security official on Saturday.
Brig. Abdul-Qadir Al-Bakush, the chief of Ubari Security Directorate, told Xinhua that an unknown armed group kidnapped a Pakistani engineer working in an oil field near the southern Libyan city of Ubari, some 900 km south of the capital Tripoli.
"The continued kidnappings and absence of official security in the south are due to the lack of government support for the security and military departments as well as some tribal factors," said Ramadan Saleh, the security coordinator in Ubari municipality.
"The claim that there are security and military agencies operating is not true, because tribes run things in the south, and this is the imbalance and the basis of the problem," Saleh explained.
Ubari, one of the largest southern cities, has a population diversity of Arabs, Tuaregs and Tabus, where armed militants outnumber the police and the army, he told Xinhua.
"The government cannot stand up to them, because fighting them means armed clashes and civil war," the security coordinator noted.
When asked about the proper way to slove the insecurity in the south, Saleh pointed to the concerted efforts between the government, army and police.
"The division between army in the east and in the west is an input to chaos, and therefore the security in the south cannot be established without their unification," Saleh said.
The kidnapping of the Pakistani engineer in Ubari is not the first and will not be the last, he noted.
Musbah Uheda, a Libyan Parliament member, also believes the absence of the government contributes to the expansion of kidnapping and criminal activities.
"A few years ago, there were no such cases in the south. When a car was stolen, the security forces intervene and brought it back. Today we hear and see every day a kidnapping or assault on a foreign worker," Uheda told Xinhua.
"There are those who try to derail the security in the south and threaten the work of foreign companies operating in oil fields and power projects. The government should intervene quickly before the situation worsens further," he warned.
The southern cities of Libya are increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking and arms and drugs smuggling because of their rugged and vast desert features.