A “crisis cell” to “secure the lives of Egyptians kidnapped in Libya” and work on their release was formed Monday, upon the orders of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Over the past week, 20 Egyptians, all of them Christian, were kidnapped in two separate incidents. The crisis cell convened and discussed the “circumstances” surrounding the two incidents, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The crisis cell includes representatives of all ministries and security apparatuses engaging in contact with concerned Libyan parties.
The ministry announced earlier this week it is in extensive communication with the Libyan government and local authorities in the city of Sirte after the kidnapping of several Egyptian Christians in Libya.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty met with family members of some of the kidnapped Egyptians Monday, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported. He provided them with updates on the Egyptian efforts that are being made to follow up on the kidnappings.
The crisis cell is in permanent session to deal with the kidnappings and to follow up with the developments of the Libyan crisis.
The ministry has repeatedly issued warnings to Egyptians from travelling to Libya, given the gravity of the security conditions in the restive North African country. It further called on Egyptians currently residing in Libya to find refuge in safe areas away from clashes and stay clear from militia strongholds.
Libya is currently witnessing ongoing battles between the government and armed militias who are battling for territory and control, leaving scores dead and wounded. This has led to the collapse of the democratic transition process after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
Due to these conditions, Egyptians have often come under attack in Libya, especially throughout the past year.
These are not the first attacks to occur against Egyptian nationals in Sirte, with the killing last month of an Egyptian family including a doctor, his wife and daughter. Also in December, two Egyptian nationals were killed when clashes erupted between military forces aligned with the internationally backed government in Tobruk and militias of Libya Dawn, the Islamist coalition holding sway in Tripoli.
Another two Egyptian workers were killed and four others were injured when a rocket hit a bakery in Benghazi on Saturday.
In September, an Egyptian citizen was shot dead in Sirte after engaging in an argument with two armed men. In July, 23 Egyptian workers were killed in Tripoli after a rocket hit a building housing migrant workers.
Additionally, there have been several incidents involving the abduction of dozens of Egyptian truck drivers in October, 2013 and April and June, 2014.
The increasingly dangerous conditions have forced thousands of people to flee the country in the summer, including hundreds of Egyptian nationals who were evacuated with the help of the Egyptian foreign ministry.