CAIRO: Seven out of 21 Egyptian fishermen who were kidnapped in Libya arrived Saturday morning to the Cairo International Airport, announced Egyptian Fishermen Syndicate head Ahmed Nassar.
“The other 14 fishermen will head to Tunisia where they will be brought on an airplane to Cairo,” Nassar told Youm7. All the fishermen are from Borg Megheizil village in Khafr al-Sheikh governorate (Delta).
Nassar announced Feb. 15 that the fishermen had been kidnapped by members of Fajr Libya in the northwestern Libyan city of Misrata. The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture announced Tuesday, however, that the group was not kidnapped but detained over “irregularities” committed once they entered Libyan territorial waters.
The ministry statement added they would be released after negotiations between the Egyptian General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD) and Libyan officials.
However, Nassar claimed in remarks to “On My Responsibility” talk show Saturday that the group had obtained official work documents from the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower and the Libyan embassy in Cairo to work in Libya.
Libyan Department of Anti-Illegal Immigration head Muftaha al-Baqaar told Sky News Arabyia Monday evening that the 21 Egyptian fishermen were not kidnapped but seized, and expressed his willingness to cooperate with Egyptian officials to release them.
Their release came amid the Egyptian’s government’s evacuation process of Egyptian nationals in Libya following release of a video by the Islamic State group in Libya showing the mass execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by beheading.
Egypt, in cooperation with the Libyan Tobruk-based government, launched airstrikes Monday hitting alleged IS hotbeds in the cities of Derna and Sirte, and estimated at least 50 suspected IS fighters were killed.