Libya: Fleeing Egyptians describe 'torture'

2011-02-25 07:40
Cairo - Egyptians fleeing Libya said on Thursday they had suffered beatings and torture after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son accused them of being behind a popular uprising there.

Arriving at Cairo airport, they said Libyan authorities tried to recruit them to help crush the uprising against Gaddafi’s 42-year authoritarian regime.

"When we refused, we were beaten up, tortured," said one of the evacuees, Ashraf Said, originally from Cairo.

On Monday, Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam condemned the uprising as a foreign plot and accused Egyptians and Tunisians of being behind it.

"Armed men broke into the homes of Egyptians, beat them up and ordered them to leave," said Yehya Islam, who comes from the southern Egyptian province of Minya.

"We had to bribe Libyan security, who controlled certain streets of Tripoli, in order to make it to the airport," added Maged Ahmed, from Cairo, who described seeing dead bodies lining the streets on the way.

He too said security officials beat him and his companions with sticks while chanting "lift your head high, you're Egyptian"- the signature chant of the Egyptian uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak two weeks ago.

Cairo said on Thursday that more than 25 000 Egyptians had fled unrest in Libya and expected many more in the coming days.

There are normally 1.5 million Egyptians in Libya, the foreign ministry in Cairo has said, many of them from poorer districts of Egypt where families count on remittances from abroad to live.

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