Two Turkish nationals who went missing in Libya about two weeks ago were found to have been detained by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar. Volkan Altınok and Mehmet Demir, workers at a restaurant in Qasr bin Ghashir town in Tripoli's south, were "detained" by Haftar's forces on April 12, media reports said. They were taken to a prison near Benghazi. A news website affiliated with Haftar's forces claimed the two were charged with espionage, although Turkish officials dismissed the allegations as rubbish.
Dozens were killed when Haftar's forces launched an assault to capture Tripoli last month and thousands of others have been displaced in areas where fighting between Haftar's self-styled army and the government forces escalated. Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of former President Moammar Gadhafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, Libya's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli and a host of heavily armed militia groups. The military push by Haftar's army, allied with a parallel eastern administration based in Benghazi, marked a dangerous escalation of a power struggle that has dragged on since the overthrow of Gadhafi. Haftar is not recognized by the international community, as the elected parliament of the country is centered in Tripoli. However, Haftar, with financial and political support of certain countries, including some Gulf states, has appeared as an influential actor in the war-torn country.