The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said seven Indians were kidnapped in Libya last month and that India was in touch with the authorities concerned to secure their release, reported PTI. The seven were from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh and were working at a construction and oil field supplies company.

The Indians were kidnapped at a place called Asshwerif on September 14 when they were on their way to the Tripoli airport to catch a flight to India, said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava at a media briefing.

“The government is in touch with their family members and would like to assure them that we are making all possible efforts in consultation and coordination with Libyan authorities and the employer to trace our nationals and secure their release from captivity at the earliest,” he added. “The employer has been contacted by the kidnappers and shown photographs as proof that the Indian nationals were safe and keeping well,” he said.

Srivastava said the Indian embassy in Tunisia was in touch with the Libyan government as well as the international organisations. The Indian mission in Tunisia handles matters relating to the welfare of Indians in Libya.

This is not the first time that Indians have been kidnapped in Libya. In 2014, 39 Indian workers were abducted by the Islamic State group in Libya from the Iraqi city of Mosul. In 2015, four Indians were kidnapped and later released. Again in September 2016, two other Indians held captive by the Islamic State group were released. The country, which is in the midst of a civil war since 2011, is also fighting Islamic State forces.

In September 2015, the government had issued an advisory to avoid travelling to Libya. In May 2016, the government imposed a complete travel ban because of the deteriorating security situation in Libya. “This travel ban is still in force,” said Srivastava.