Ankara has condemned the abduction and murder of a Libyan mayor in Libya’s northwestern city of Misrata following his return from an official trip to Turkey.
“We have learnt with deep sorrow that Mohammed Eshtawi, the mayor of Misrata, was first abducted and then assassinated by several unidentified gunmen,” read a Foreign Ministry statement released on Dec. 18.
“We strongly condemn this heinous crime that targets the stability of Misrata and Libya. We hope the perpetrators will be apprehended as soon as possible and brought to justice,” it said.
Eshtawi, the chief of the Misrata Municipal Council, was shot dead in northwestern Libya on Dec. 18, according to the official Libyan News Agency.
Militants abducted him shortly after he left Misrata’s international airport and then killed him. His body was found dumped in the street, the agency said, citing a local source.
A hospital in Misrata said it received the mayor’s body bearing gunshot wounds.
Eshtewi was returning from an official visit to Turkey along with other members of the city council, all of whom were elected in 2014 to serve a four-year term. His brother was with him in the car and was wounded in the attack, a security source said.
U.N. Libyan envoy Ghassan Salame denounced on Twitter the killing and expressed his “profound sadness” at the news.
The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord deplored the “cowardly” and “terrorist act” responsible for the death of a “symbol of moderation and tolerance,” vowing to bring those responsible to justice.
The French Foreign Ministry said the killing stressed “the urgency for a political solution” to the political and security problems that plague the North African country.
Britain’s ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, said he was “deeply saddened by [the] senseless murder” of Eshtewi. “He worked hard to serve his people,” Millett said on Twitter.
Home to some 400,000 people, Misrata is considered one of Libya’s safest cities. Its powerful militias played a major role in expelling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from the coastal city of Sirte last year.
In October, four people were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by ISIL at the main court building in Misrata.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, as rival authorities and militias vie for control of the oil-rich country.