Two Serbs abducted in Libya believed killed in US raids on ISIL

Two Serbs abducted in Libya believed killed in US raids on ISIL

Two Serbs abducted in Libya believed killed in US raids on ISIL

A view shows damage at the scene after an airstrike by U.S. warplanes against Islamic State in Sabratha, Libya in this February 19, 2016 handout picture. Reuters photo

Two Serbian embassy staff members abducted in Libya in November are believed to have been killed on Feb. 19 in U.S. air strikes on a suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) training camp, Serbia's foreign minister said on Feb. 20.

Sladjana Stankovic, a communications officer, and Jovica Stepic, a driver, were taken hostage on Nov. 8 after their diplomatic convoy, including the ambassador, came under fire near the coastal city of Sabratha.

"We are expecting identification of the victims, so formally we cannot confirm the information," Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told a news conference.

Dacic said Serbian authorities had been negotiating the release of the two prior to the attack.

"The kidnappers had a financial interest," Dacic said, adding that demands had been "impossible" to meet by either the families or the government.

He said Serbia would send a protest note to Washington for not informing Serbian authorities of the raid.

More than 40 people, probably including a militant connected to two deadly attacks last year in neighboring Tunisia, were killed in the Feb. 19 strikes by U.S. warplanes in western Libya.

Diplomats and foreign nationals have been targeted in the past for kidnapping, mostly for ransom or to demand the release of Libyan fighters being held by overseas governments. Islamist militants have also targeted foreigners.

Serbia has ties with both the internationally recognised Libyan government based in the eastern town of Tobruk and with the self-declared authorities in the capital Tripoli.