CAIRO:Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed the killing of 16 Egyptian nationals by Libyan human traffickers on Wednesday evening.
The victims were unregistered emigrants and were killed following clashes with Libyan human traffickers in Beni Walid city west north of Libya, said Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement Thursday.
The Ministry and the Egyptian embassy to Libya, which locates temporarily in Cairo due to Libyan security and political turmoil, are in contact with Libya officials in Toruk city to identify the victims and to identify the responsible for the murder, Abu Zeid noted.
A Libyan military official told Youm7 that quarrel erupted between one of the Egyptian emigrants and a driver from a smuggling gang, but the situation escalated when the Egyptian national killed the driver.
Two other Egyptian emigrants killed another two drivers and stole the smuggling vehicle. However, members from the gang chased the Egyptians and killed them all, the official continued.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative and head of UN supporting Mission in Libya Martin Kobler expressed his concerns over killing the Egyptian nationals, posting on his twitter account “I regret the killings of Beni walid and call for calm. Local authorities should investigate and provide justice.”
On February 15, 2015, the Libyan branch of the Islamic State group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped by them. 24 hours later, Egyptian air forces, in cooperation with Libya army of Tobruk-based government, launched military airstrikes against IS havens in Libyan territories.
Despite of the deteriorating security situation, Libya is considered one of the North African countries that are considered gates for illegal migration to European countries via the Mediterranean.
Egyptian authorities have warned several times against traveling to Libya where a state of chaos is prevailing since the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. Islamists are controlling the northern parts of the country while the internationally recognized government took its headquarters in Tobruk city on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast.