Twenty one Egyptian fishermen who were claimed “missing” Sunday were announced released by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Adel El-Beltagy, state television reported.
Ministry spokesman Eid Hawwas told Daily News Egypt that the release of the fishermen, who were abducted in Misrata, was agreed upon with a Libyan party, but the fishermen are yet to walk free.
The Kafr Al-Sheikh fishermen’s syndicate head, Ahmed Nassar, said Sunday that communications with the fishermen who were held in custody by the Islamist Libya Dawn factions have stopped for three days.
Nassar said the fishermen were detained by the Islamist factions two months ago, but were told they would be deported to Egypt after investigating their papers.
He added that the fishermen who hold official work permits were in contact with their families in Egypt, but such communications stopped three days ago.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty told Daily News Egypt that the ministry has the fishermen’s information, and will verify their situation after communicating with Libyan officials.
Egypt launched airstrikes inside Libya on Monday in retaliation for the beheadings of 21 kidnapped Egyptian workers by “Islamic State” in Libya.
The killed Coptic workers were kidnapped at the start of the year in the Libyan city of Sirte.
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.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Monday that procedures are ongoing to ensure and facilitate the repatriation of Egyptians wishing to return home from Libya.