Kiwi killed in Libya - reports

Two foreigners shot dead in western Libya, reportedly a New Zealand woman and a British man, appear to have been killed next to a picnic on a beach.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) and Britain's Foreign Office are both investigating the reports, but neither has confirmed the pair's nationality.

The bodies were found with gunshot wounds near the coastal area of Mellitah, 100km west of Tripoli, a security source told Reuters.

A graphic photograph purportedly of the pair, posted to the Sabratah Media Centre Facebook page, shows their bodies lying face-down in sand.

The bodies were separated by what appeared to be picnic blanket laid out with food and drink. The photograph also showed a red and black backpack.

A security source told Reuters the pair's belongings were not stolen and the motive for their killing was unclear. Police were reportedly investigating tyre marks found in the area.

It is understood at least one of the pair worked at Mellitah Oil and Gas, a large oil and gas complex co-owned by Italy's ENI. Other reports suggested the pair were teachers.

Mfat spokesman Adam Crichton said the ministry was aware of reports a New Zealander may have been killed in Libya.

"We are working with the relevant authorities to confirm this."

No update was expected until tomorrow, he said.

Five New Zealanders were registered as being in Libya, he said.

Mfat's SafeTravel website warns of "extreme risk" to personal security in parts of Libya "due to a significant threat from terrorism and kidnapping and we advise against all travel".

There was a "high risk" to security in other areas, including the capital Tripoli and the northern coastal cities of Zuwara - near where the bodies were found.

A spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said: "We are aware of reports that the bodies of two foreign nationals have been found in Libya and are urgently seeking further information from the authorities."

Libyan police had been actively searching for the pair when their bodies were discovered, CNN reported the Sabratah Media Centre as saying.

It was not clear how long the pair had been missing beforehand, the report said.

A control room operator at Mellitah Oil and Gas told APNZ the bodies were found near Sabratah, about 74km west of Tripoli.

He said he did not have exact information about where the pair were working, but they had "some jobs at Mellitah".

"I haven't seen an English man or a New Zealand woman here before, but they have told us that they have some jobs at Mellitah."

The operator said he did not know why the pair had been killed.

"We are waiting also, we are waiting. All of us, also foreign people, all are afraid about that."

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported a British national employed at the complex was missing.

The Associated Press reported the pair were both teachers and worked in Tripoli.

The incident comes less than a month after an American teacher was shot to death in the eastern city of Benghazi.

In a separate incident overnight, two Americans were being held by the Libyan army at its Benghazi headquarters, several security and army sources told Reuters.

Both were arrested on the campus of Benghazi University, a security source said.

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