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Two Italians, one Canadian abducted in Libya

Kidnappers are known robnbers says council member in the northern town of Ghat
Fighting at Ghat airport, where the trio worked for a ground handling company (AFP)

Two Italians and a Canadian have been kidnapped near the Algerian border in Libya on Monday.

Libyan authorities said they are searching for the hostages, who were abducted at gunpoint between the towns of Ghat and Tahala southwest of the country.

"The security authorities are following the incident closely," Ghat's mayor Gomani Mohamad Saleh told Reuters.

Hassan Osman Eissa, a council member in Ghat, told the Associated Press that the kidnappers are known to local security forces and had committed robberies and car-jackings in the area in the past.

Canada's foreign affairs ministry said on Monday it was seeking confirmation of the kidnappings.

"We are aware of the troubling, yet unconfirmed report of the abduction of a Canadian citizen in Libya," ministry spokesman Michael O'Shaughnessy told AFP.

In Rome, the Italian foreign ministry confirmed that two of its nationals were abducted in the same region.

Citing Libyan sources, the Italian press said the trio worked for a ground handling company at Ghat airport.

"We are diligently pursuing all appropriate channels," O'Shaughnessy said.

The Italian government said it "has been informed of the situation and has been following up on developments from the moment it learnt of the case".