SABRATHA, Libya, Feb. 20 (UPI) — Two Serbian embassy staff members were among the at least 49 people killed in a U.S. airstrike against Islamic State targets in Libya on Friday.
Speaking on Saturday, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic confirmed that Sladjana Stankovic and Jovica Stepic, who were kidnapped in November 2015, were among the victims.
Vucic sent “a note” to U.S. officials in Washington seeking an explanation, saying Serbia was neither informed of the attack nor asked about the kidnapping case.
“We spoke to American services today ─ it seems they didn’t know that Serbian nationals and other nationals were in the location that was bombed,” Vucic said, according to NBC News.
Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic said that Serbia was aware of the location of Stankovic and Stepic and believed that the kidnappers did not intend to kill them.
“If there had not been the bombing, there would not have been this outcome,” Dacic said. “The kidnappers’ interest was not to kill them, their motive was purely financial. We could not fulfill it, but we continued the negotiations.”
The airstrike was targeting an IS training camp where Tunisian IS operative Noureddine Chouchane was believed to be. Pentagon officials said he was likely killed in the attack.
According to Vucic, Belgrade is awaiting a formal explanation from U.S. forces.
“We received an informal reply from the CIA that they did not know, but we will also wait to receive this officially,” he said.