Frenchman shot dead, four arrested, in Libya: Paris

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The French government said Thursday that a Frenchman was shot dead in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and four other French nationals were arrested by police during the same incident.

"During a police check in Benghazi last night, five French nationals were detained," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday evening.

"One of them was wounded by a bullet and died overnight in a hospital in Benghazi," as reported earlier by a doctor at the hospital, while the other four remain in detention, it added.

"Our representative there is demanding to meet with our detained compatriots. He remains in contact with the local authorities to examine their situation."

Neither European diplomatic and military sources nor rebel officials were immediately able to provide any details on the incident. The foreign ministry provided no information about the identity of the man killed or those detained.

Benghazi is held by rebels battling against Libyan ruler Moamer Kadhafi. France supports the rebels and was the first outside country to formally recognise their political leaders.

Former French soldiers have been seen in Benghazi seeking work as private security officers, AFP reporters said. Rumours were circulating all day on Thursday that some of them had been kidnapped the night before.

The employer of those Frenchmen, French private security firm Secopex, would not comment to AFP on the rumours.

© 2011 AFP

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