Joint efforts between the Egyptian and Libyan states secured on Sunday evening the release of a group of Egyptian drivers abducted near the eastern Libyan city of Ajdabiya.
Dozens of Egyptian drivers have been seized alongside their trucks by armed men on the Tobruk International Road near Ajdabiya since Thursday night.
Before the release of the drivers, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it was “heavily” communicating with Libyan officials and tribal chieftains to “secure the safety of the abducted Egyptians and guarantee their swift return to their homeland.”
The ministry announced in a statement released on Saturday night that it established an operations room in coordination with the its consular sector, the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli and the Egyptian consulate in Benghazi to overlook the latest developments. Mohamed Abu Bakr, Egypt’s ambassador to Libya, told state-run news agency MENA on Sunday that the operations room contributed to the “success” of joint efforts of the Egyptian and Libyan states in ending the crisis.
Abu Bakr praised what he described as “significant cooperation” between the Egyptian authorities and the Libyan authorities, reported MENA. He also applauded the efforts of eastern Libyan tribes and chieftains who “contributed to the drivers’ release”.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty said earlier that the ministry had contacted some of the abducted drivers before their release. “They asserted that they are being treated well,” Abdelatty said, adding that the ministry’s top priority is “the citizens’ safety and their swift return to their homes.”
The Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation could not be reached for comment.
Officials from Homeland Security in the eastern Libyan city of Ajdabiya held a closed meeting on Sunday morning with the local council and civil society organisations to discuss possible ways to secure the release of Egyptian drivers abducted near the city, reported MENA.
The leader of the group that carried out the abduction had stated on Saturday that the abducted drivers would be released within 48 hours, MENA reported.
The leader reportedly stressed that the abduction holds no political dimensions. He stated that the abductors were ready to release the prisoners on condition that the Egyptian government interferes to release Libyan nationals held in Egyptian prisons, reported MENA.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) expressed its “utmost concern” regarding the abduction of the drivers, whose number it reported to be 77, and called for the immediate intervention of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Libyan authorities to secure their release.