Libyan rebels said on Friday they had captured a group of Ukrainian nationals during a battle for a Tripoli district controlled by forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi, a report questioned by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
Some 200 people were captured during clashes in the Abu Salim district, including several dozen snipers, among whom were 15 Ukrainians, a representative of the opposition Transitional National Council, Yahya Saleh, said.
A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday the ministry had “no information” confirming the report about the capturing of Ukrainians in Libya.
“If the capture took place, we would have learned about it from reliable sources,” Oleg Voloshin said, adding that the Ukrainian Embassy in Tripoli also had no information about the allegedly captured Ukrainians.
“If our nationals were found there, we would protect their rights,” he said, stressing that under Ukrainian laws, mercenary activities are considered a criminal offence.
The ministry has also put under question previous media reports that Ukrainian mercenaries were fighting for Gaddafi in Libya, but said it was investigating the information.
In March, the ministry denied media allegations that more than 20 Ukrainian pilots could have been involved in military operations in support of Gaddafi.
Earlier on Friday, Libyan opposition forces said they had established control of the entire Libyan capital.
Abu Salim remained under control of pro-Gaddafi troops for several days since rebel fighters entered Tripoli and seized Gaddafi's residence. Rebels believed that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of the embattled Libyan leader's sons, could have been hiding somewhere in Abu Salim.
But Saleh said after Friday clashes that the whereabouts of Gaddafi's son, as well as Gaddafi himself, still remained unknown.