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Libya: Ex-official kidnapped; interior minister said he resigned

By the CNN Wire Staff
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Libyan state TV reports "gangs" in Benghazi kidnapped Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi
  • Earlier Wednesday, al Abidi said he quit the government and supports protesters
  • He predicted protesters will achieve victory in "days or hours"

(CNN) -- Hours after Libya's former interior minister said he resigned to support anti-government protesters, the Libyan government said he had been kidnapped.

Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi told CNN Wednesday that he resigned Monday after hearing that 300 unarmed civilians had been killed in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city. He accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of planning to attack civilians on a wide scale.

But the same day, Libyan state media reported that "gangs" in Benghazi had kidnapped him. Witnesses have reported that Benghazi has essentially been taken over by the opposition. Witnesses also told CNN they saw Younis on Sunday and Monday in Benghazi, where he was siding with the protesters.

CNN could not immediately confirm reports for areas beyond Benghazi. The Libyan government maintains tight control on communications and has not responded to repeated requests from CNN for access to the country. CNN has interviewed numerous witnesses by phone.

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Libyan state television added that Libyan forces have warned those responsible for the kidnapping that they "will be chased in their hiding places."

Earlier Wednesday, al Abidi said he had quit the government and is supporting the protesters, who he predicted will achieve victory in "days or hours."

"Gadhafi told me he was planning on using airplanes against the people in Benghazi, and I told him that he will have thousands of people killed if he does that," al Abidi said in an Arabic-language telephone interview Wednesday.

He called Gadhafi "a stubborn man" who will not give up. "He will either commit suicide or he will get killed," said al Abidi, who said he has known him since 1964.

Al Abidi called on Libyan security forces "to join the people in the intifada." Already, he said, "many members" of the security forces had defected, including those in the capital, Tripoli.

Since the recent protests in Libya started February 15, a growing number of Libyan officials have reportedly resigned.

Libya's ambassador to Bangladesh, A.H. Elimam, resigned to side with pro-democracy protesters, said BSS, the official news agency of Bangladesh, citing a Foreign Ministry official Tuesday.

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Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil also resigned, saying he was protesting the "bloody situation" and "use of excessive force" against unarmed protesters, according to the Libyan newspaper Quryna.

CNN's Waffa Munayyer contributed to this report.

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