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Mon 24 Feb 2014 07:23 PM

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Qatar official refutes claim over Libyan airport arrests

Gulf state's ambassador to Libya says report of six Qataris held with false papers, $146,000 in cash is 'totally baseless'

Qatar official refutes claim over Libyan airport arrests
(Getty Images - Photo for illustrative purpose only)

The Qatari government has reportedly denied a report that six Qatari men were arrested over the weekend at a Libyan airport with fake passports and $146,000 in cash.

Reuters cited an unnamed security source at the Benina International Airport in Benghazi as saying the men were held as they were about to board a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul from where they had an onward booking to the Qatari capital Doha.

The report said five of the men were definitively of Qatari origin, while the sixth was suspected of being Qatari.

But Qatar’s ambassador to Libya, Sheikh Mohammed bin Nasser Al Thani, called the report “totally baseless” in a statement issued by the Qatar News Agency.

A spokesperson for Libya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Doha News that the men's nationality was unknown.

“We cannot confirm that we have anything to believe (that they are Qatari). We are waiting for a report from security (investigators),” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Western diplomats in Libya worry that Benina airport in the eastern city of Benghazi is being used by Islamists to travel to Turkey in order to join anti-government rebels in Syria.

Libyans do not need a visa for Turkey, which is linked to Benghazi by daily flights. Security is often lax at the small airport, the Reuters report said.

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