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Egypt halts truck movement to and from Libya

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The Salloum border crossing has been shut for trucks in both directions until further notice

Egypt has shut down the Salloum border crossing between Egypt and Libya for trucks in both directions on Saturday night. (AFP PHOTO)

Egypt has shut down the Salloum border crossing between Egypt and Libya for trucks in both directions on Saturday night.

Egypt has shut down the Salloum border crossing between Egypt and Libya for trucks in both directions on Saturday night.

The border crossing will be shut “until further notice”, state-run MENA reported. The director of the crossing, Hussein Al-Ma’bady, received the instructions to shut down the crossing five days after it was opened to allow the passage of Egyptian trucks on Monday, 2 June, he was cited by MENA as saying.

Earlier on Saturday, Egyptian authorities caught 62 Egyptians who were trying to illegally cross into Libya. They were caught in a military zone in Salloum, which civilians are not allowed to enter without a permit.

The Salloum crossing was the main crossing point between Egypt and Libya, but the travel of individuals, whether Egyptian or Libyan, through the border crossing has been banned by Egyptian authorities since 20 May, after escalating violence in Libya.

Last month, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi described Libya as one of the security threats Egypt is facing, especially with regards to fighting terrorism, in an interview with Reuters.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy has expressed “serious concern” over the political situation in Libya as clashes between an army general and state-backed Islamist militias are posed to threaten regional stability. He also condemned “Libya[n] and foreign attempts” to involve Egypt in the deadly Libyan violence.

On 20 and 21 May, Fahmy spoke about the situation in Libya with counterparts in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, the Secretary General of the Arab League and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Tensions between Egypt and its troubled neighbour Libya have been on the rise in recent months after a string of killings and kidnappings targeting Egyptian nationals.

In April, 50 Egyptian nationals were detained by armed Libyans for two days on a road between Tobruk and Ajdabiya. Last October dozens of Egyptian truck drivers were abducted along the same stretch of road.

Within a period of four days in late March, two Egyptians were shot and killed in Benghazi. Earlier in the month, another Egyptian national was gunned down in the same city.

In February, seven Egyptians were shot dead by a group of masked militants, prompting Egyptian authorities to issue a travel warning to citizens visiting or residing in Libya in light of the security situation in the neighbouring country.

Egypt and Libya signed an agreement for military cooperation in April 2013. The agreement tackled border security, which involves the two countries sharing expertise regarding border control and fighting illegal immigration and fishing operations.

However, Egyptians have continued to illegally cross into Libya despite warnings from both governments advising them to obtain the correct documentation before travelling and Egyptian fishermen have been repeatedly found violating Libya’s territorial waters.

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