Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister Sadiq Abdulkarim is living in Malta, this newspaper has learnt.

A government spokesman would not confirm or deny it, simply saying it “would not comment on matters of national security”.

Mr Abdulkarim, who was also Libya’s deputy PM while Ali Zeidan was prime minister, is living under heavily armed guard on the island.

Mr Abdulkarim survived an assassination attempt in the capital Tripoli at the end of January when gunmen opened fire as he was about to enter the interior ministry, which he heads.

Libya is struggling to contain dozens of militias who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising, but kept their guns and have regularly challenged the authority of the new government.

Over the weekend, the government was quick to deny media speculation that Mr Zeidan was living in Malta.

Government spokesman Carmelo Abela reiterated during a press conference on Tuesday that the man seen under heavy escort in St Paul’s Bay was not the former Libyan premier but said he could not give further details because of national security.

Mr Zeidan was in Malta briefly in March, shortly after being ousted by the Libyan Parliament, when he defied a travel ban and boarded a Libyan aircraft. The aircraft was diverted to Malta and landed at around 8pm.

Two hours later Mr Zeidan boarded a Maltese private jet and departed for Germany. He did not ask for political asylum during his short stay.

In October last year, Mr Zeidan was briefly kidnapped from the Malta-owned Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli by a militia group.

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