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Egypt issues travel warning to Libya

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Foreign Ministry cautions fishermen against violating other states’ territorial waters

Egyptians hold signs in Arabic calling  for the sacking of the Egyptian foreign minister and ambassador in Libya as ambulances drive out of Cairo international airport on February 26, 2014, carrying the bodies of seven Egyptian victims who were found shot dead  in Jalluta, near Benghazi in eastern Libya, the previous day.  The victims were kidnapped from their home late on February 23, by an unknown group, an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said, adding that eight men had been taken originally but one escaped by throwing himself from his abductors' car. ( AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

Egyptians hold signs in Arabic calling for the sacking of the Egyptian foreign minister and ambassador in Libya as ambulances drive out of Cairo international airport on February 26, 2014, carrying the bodies of seven Egyptian victims who were found shot dead in Jalluta, near Benghazi in eastern Libya, the previous day.( AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on Saturday a travel warning to citizens visiting or residing in Libya in light of the security situation in the neighbouring country.

In a statement, the ministry called on Egyptians in Libya to take caution during their travel within the country. It also advised them to turn to Egypt’s embassy and consulates in Libya should they face any problems.

The ministry urged Egyptians travelling to Libya to confirm the validity of their entry visas. It advised travellers who possess a work visa in Libya to travel there by plane, as per the state’s instructions.

The ministry’s travel warning follows the death of seven Egyptian nationals in Libya last week. A group of masked militants abducted eight Egyptians on 23 February, taking them to Gorutha suburb west of Benghazi. One escaped, but seven were shot dead.

Both the Egyptian and Libyan sides expressed their intention to cooperate and apprehend the killers.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy met with his Libyan counterpart to demand swift investigation into the “atrocious terrorist incident” which gripped the lives of seven Egyptians, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty during a press conference Saturday.

“The ministry will work to ensure that the martyrs’ legal and financial rights are upheld,” Abdelatty said.

The foreign ministry has not been able to confirm the details of  the incident, including whether the victims, Coptic Christians, were attacked because of their religion, he said. He described the security situation in Libya as “one of the utmost delicacy and difficulty”, stressing the Libyan authorities’ responsibility to protect and secure Egyptians within its borders.

Libya’s foreign ministry issued a statement Tuesday offering condolences and condemning the incident. The ministry said the government is following up with investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also admonished fishermen to respect other countries’ territorial waters. Fishermen must possess permits prior to entering or risk losing their boats, paying a fine, or serving up to five years in prison. Because border guards sometimes shoot at boats that trespass on territorial waters, the ministry added, some fishermen have paid with their lives.

Last week, an Egyptian fisherman was killed and at least 65 were arrested after a Saudi Arabian border guard fired shots at two Egyptian fishing boats that entered territorial waters without permits. The detained fishermen were released later on in the week. Fifteen Egyptian fishermen were released from Libyan custody and deported in January after being held for violating Libya’s territorial waters.

Egyptian fishermen are frequently found fishing illegally in territorial waters. Fishermen brave the trip to countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Italy because Egyptian waters are short on fish and crowded with boats.

“Just like we ask others to respect our laws and refrain from violating our territorial waters, we should do the same,” Abdelatty said.


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