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Bodies of two foreigners found on Libyan beach, officials say

By Jomana Karadsheh and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 9:47 PM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
This file photo shows a Libyan officer patrolling with tourist police in Sabratha, a city on the Mediterranean coast, west of Tripoli in 2011.
This file photo shows a Libyan officer patrolling with tourist police in Sabratha, a city on the Mediterranean coast, west of Tripoli in 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The bodies were discovered on Tallil Seyahi Beach on the outskirts of Sabratha, media officials say
  • The two appeared to be having a picnic when they were shot, the Sabratha Media Center said
  • The bodies were found in a fairly remote area near a partially built resort

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan authorities have found the bodies of two foreigners who appear to have been shot during a picnic on a beach west of Tripoli, media officials said Thursday.

The bodies were discovered on Tallil Seyahi Beach on the outskirts of the coastal city of Sabratha, according to the Sabratha Media Center.

The identities and the nationalities of the two, described only as a man and a woman, have not been released.

The UK Foreign Office and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they were looking into whether the dead were citizens of Britain and New Zealand.

"We are aware of reports that the bodies of two foreign nationals have been found in Libya, and we are urgently seeking further information from the authorities," said Sinead Keller of the UK Foreign Office.

An official at the New Zealand foreign ministry said it was working with "relevant authorities to confirm this."

"The bodies have not yet been formally identified and the next of kin have not yet been informed," the ministry official said.

The two foreigners were reported missing, and police were actively searching for them when the bodies were discovered, the Sabratha Media Center said.

It was not immediately clear from the media center how long the two were missing before their bodies were found.

An initial police investigation shows the two were having a picnic in a somewhat remote area near a partially built resort.

A photo posted on the Sabratha Media Center Facebook page purports to show the man and woman, who are lying face down in the sand. Near the bodies is a blanket that is spread out, with food and drinks strewn about. A backpack sat nearby.

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the photo, which the Sabratha Media Center said it obtained and posted to its Facebook page.

According to an initial police investigation, there are tire marks in the area.

Investigators are looking for possible motives behind the killings, officials said. In recent weeks there has been a rise in crime in the area, including a Libyan man who was killed during a reported carjacking, according to the media center.

The beaches in and around Sabratha are among some of the most developed on Libya's western coastline. They were a popular destination for picnics and swimming among foreigners before the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Jomana Karadsheh reported from Tripoli, and Chelsea J. Carter wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.

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