Government 'cautiously optimistic' on release of two Indians in Libya

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New Delhi, Aug 5: Even as efforts are on for the release of two Indians who are still in the captivity of the Islamic State militant group in Libya for over a week, official sources on Wednesday said they were "cautiously optimistic" about freeing the two Telugu men.

The two men are not professors at the University of Sirte but work at the Jufra branch of the university, said sources.

LIBYA

Indian officials are working for the release of the two men, Balram and Gopikrishna of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, who are still in captivity.

However, rescue efforts have got held up due to fighting in Libya between the pro-Muammar Gaddafi faction and IS militants, the sources revealed.

The Indian government is waiting for the situation to normalise somewhat before going ahead with the rescue mission, it has been learnt.

Libya is in chaos with rival governments fighting each other, while IS militants have gained a toehold in the growing security vacuum.

The two were among the four people kidnapped by Islamic State militants when they were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis last week. The men were detained at a check point, 50 km from the coastal city of Sirte.

While Vijaykumar and Lakshmikanth, who hail from Karnataka, were released from captivity last week and have returned to India, the fate of Balram and Gopikrishna is not known yet.

Balram hails from Hyderabad, while the family of Gopikrishna, who is from Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, also lives in Hyderabad.

Gopikrishna has been teaching computer science at Jufra branch of the university since 2007, whereas Balram has been teaching English at the same university since 2011.

The Andhra Pradesh government's representative in New Delhi, K. Rammohan Rao, spoke to the Indian diplomat in Tripoli, Mohammad Rashid Khan, over phone a few days ago, and was told that the dean at the University of Sirte was in regular touch with the abductees.

Rao said all efforts were being made to secure the release of Gopikrishna and Balram.

IANS

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