CAIRO: Three Egyptian engineers living in Libya were allegedly kidnapped on Friday amid a worsening security vacuum hitting the North African nation; Egyptian officials have stated they are working to verify the information.
A Libyan human rights source told Youm7 the three engineers were moving from Sabha city in South East Libya to Al-Jufra in the center of the country, when unknown assailants blocked the road and abducted them.
The three are Ramy Hassan, Youssef Khaled and Osama Ibrahim; they are working for The French Company for Communications, said Nasser el-Hawary, head of the Victims of Libyan Human Rights Organization, to Youm7.
Egyptian officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were notified with the news and are confirming on its validity, the Ministry’s spokesperson Badr Abdel Atty told The Cairo Post Saturday. “There is still no certain information so far,” he said.
Many Egyptian nationals in Libya are currently trying to evacuate and return to Egypt via a land route, which starts from the troubled city of Sirte, which is controlled by Libya’s Islamic State (IS) branch, then to Maradah, to Ajdabiya and then to the Egyptian borders, Hawary said.
The attempts to flee follow the release of video last Sunday showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian hostages by a Libyan affiliate of the IS group.
Airstrikes were launched by the Egyptian army early on Monday in Derna, located in eastern Libya close to Egyptian borders. Libyan sources said the airstrikes killed some 50 of IS members.
As an act of apparent revenge, IS announced its responsibility for three explosions that took place in the oil-rich country on Friday killing an estimated 40 people, including about five Egyptians.
The evacuation of Egyptian nationals living in Libya continues; some 196 reportedly arrived in Cairo, after passing through neighboring Tunisia and returning on an EgyptAir flight.
Egypt is now seeking international support for proposed military intervention against IS in Libya, which has been met with skepticism from a number of countries.
Since 2011, Libya has been in a steady descent into a security vaccum. Although an internationally recognized government is based in Tobruk, it has little practical reach, and most of the country is under the control of the so-called National Salvation government, tribes, or Islamist militias.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Gomaa