More than 25 Egyptian trucks held since Tuesday east of the Libyan city of Ajdabiya were released on Friday after efforts by the Egyptian Military Intelligence, state-run MENA reported.
Head of the Supreme Committee of Ajdabiya Besheer Abdel Qader was cited as saying that trucks and their drivers were held by Libyan citizens. The citizens, reported to be armed, were demanding the release of Libyans held in Egyptian prisons.
The drivers had been told to park the trucks at the side of the road after their passports were taken away from them.
Abdel Qader said the drivers are well, and that a committee of elders and officials on both sides were involved in ending the crisis.
This comes after a similar truck crisis earlier this month, when over 70 Egyptian trucks and their drivers were held by Libyan citizens near Bengazi. They were calling for the release of a Libyan national sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Egypt on human trafficking charges. They were eventually released on 20 June.
Egyptian authorities have repeatedly shut down the Salloum border crossing, the main crossing point between Egypt and Libya, for trucks.
Tensions between Egypt and its troubled neighbour have recently been on the rise as a string of killings and kidnappings has targeted Egyptian nationals. In May, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi described Libya, in an interview with news-agency Reuters, as one of the security threats facing Egypt, especially in regard to fighting terrorism. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry voiced “serious concern” in May over the tense political situation in Libya.
A militia blocked the international road between Tobruk and Ajdabiya in May, affecting a number of Egyptian drivers who remained trapped in their trucks for almost 24 hours.
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.
Egypt has issued and reiterated a travel warning for citizens travelling to Libya, advising Egyptian nationals not to travel to Libya unless absolutely necessary. Recommendations to travel by airplane rather than by road, and only “after obtaining a valid visa issued by the Libyan embassy in Cairo”, have also been made.
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.