TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Masked gunmen seized the Jordanian ambassador in the Libyan capital early on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a wave of abductions that has swept Libya as the North African nation grapples with lawlessness since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Said al-Aswad said several masked gunmen in two cars opened fire at Ambassador Fawaz al-Etan's vehicle in Tripoli, wounding the driver and forcing the diplomat out at gunpoint.
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sabah al-Rafie confirmed the kidnapping but had no further details. She said the Jordanian government was following the matter closely with Libyan authorities.
The motives behind the abduction were not clear and no one immediately claimed responsibility for it.
Abductions have been rife in Libya since Gadhafi's ouster, with diplomats and journalists frequently targeted. In January, gunmen briefly held six Egyptian diplomats and embassy employees following the arrest of a Libyan militia leader in Egypt. They were released only after Egypt freed the detained militia commander.
Most of the abductions, though, have targeted Libyan officials and their family members.
On Sunday, Libya's interim prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni, declined a parliamentary mandate to form a new government, saying he would step down after a new premier is named.
Al-Thinni said his action was prompted by a recent attack against him that, in his words, endangered the lives of residents of his neighborhood. Details of the attack were not revealed but al-Thinni, who was the country's former defense minister, said he did not want to be the cause of any fighting or bloodshed because of his position.
Al-Thinni's son was kidnapped and held by a militia for four months until his release in January.
And last year, former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was briefly abducted from his five-star hotel in central Tripoli by an Islamic militia group before he was released by another rival armed group.
Also, the current powerful head of the Libyan Parliament, Nouri Abu Sahmein, appeared last month in a leaked video in which he is seen to be begging with an Islamic militia commander, trying to explain why he was caught with two women in his residence and insisting nothing scandalous was going on.
The incidents reflect the weakness of Libyan politicians and officials in the face of powerful militias that have become both the enforcers of the law and the fuel of lawlessness after successive governments depended on them to restore order in the absence of a strong police force or military.
Associated Press writer Omar Akour contributed to this report from Amman, Jordan.