25 000 Egyptians return from Libya

2015-02-27 12:00
Militants in Libya claiming loyalty to ISIS purportedly shows Egyptian Coptic Christians in orange jumpsuits being led along a beach, each accompanied by a masked militant. (AP, File)

Militants in Libya claiming loyalty to ISIS purportedly shows Egyptian Coptic Christians in orange jumpsuits being led along a beach, each accompanied by a masked militant. (AP, File)

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Cairo - More than 25 000 Egyptians have returned from neighbouring Libya since the ISIS group posted a video earlier this month of the beheadings of Christian compatriots, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

Egypt carried out air strikes against jihadist targets in Libya on 16 February in retaliation for the executions of the 21 Copts and urged its large expatriate workforce to head home for their own safety.

The foreign ministry said 21 407 Egyptians had returned overland through the Sallum border crossing, while another 4 122 had crossed into Tunisia, from where they were flown home on government-chartered flights.

There are no firm figures for the number of Egyptians working in Libya but estimates run into the hundreds of thousands.

Before the Nato-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, around 1.5 million Egyptians worked in the oil-rich country, mostly in construction and services.

But hundreds of thousands fled that year's bloodshed and numbers have fallen further amid the turmoil that has gripped Libya ever since.

The country is awash with weapons, and opposing militias are battling for control of its cities and oil wealth.

Libya has two rival governments and parliaments, those recognised by the international community sitting in the far east of the country and the others with ties to Islamists in the capital Tripoli.

Read more on:    nato  |  egypt  |  north africa  |  security

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