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4 Italians kidnapped in Libya

ROME -- Italy's Foreign Ministry says four Italian construction workers have been kidnapped near an industrial complex owned by the Italian energy giant Eni in the western Libyan city of Mellitah.

In a statement Monday, the ministry said the four were employees of the Bonatti construction company.

The ministry noted it had closed its embassy in Libya on Feb. 15 and urged Italians to leave the North African nation because of the dangers to foreigners.

Libya has slid into chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It is now bitterly divided between an elected parliament and government cornered in the country's east, with little power on the ground, and an Islamist militia-backed government in the west that has seized the capital of Tripoli.

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Hundreds of militias are aligned with either side or on their own, battling for power and turf in a lawless environment has allowed human traffickers and kidnappers to flourish. Libya is a huge gathering point for desperate migrants seeking to reach Europe and the smugglers who prey on them.

The U.N. envoy for Libya, meanwhile, has urged the Islamist-led government in Tripoli to sign a peace deal that would establish a unity government. That government took part in early stages of talks but has refused to participate in later discussions.

Members of Libya's internationally recognized parliament, now based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and regional leaders initialed the unity government accord in Morocco on July 11.

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