Libyan gunmen free detained Egyptian trucks

Ahram Online , Sunday 6 Apr 2014

Officials say gunmen have freed more than 50 Egyptian trucks detained to protest the arrest of group members in Egypt

Members of a heavily armed militia group hold their weapons in Freedom Square in Benghazi February 18, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian trucks detained by militiamen in Libya were freed late on Saturday after the Egyptian government contacted the Libyan authorities over the matter, officials said

Gunmen had detained over 50 Egyptian trucks since Friday, on a road in the east of the restive country, to protest the prosecution of family members in Egypt over charges including arms smuggling.

The trucks, and their drivers, had been held in the city of Ajdabiya since Friday, Libyan interior ministry spokesman Rami Kaal told state news agency MENA.

He said they were freed late on Saturday and continued on their journeys into Libya or returned to Egypt.

Egyptian foreign ministry official Ali El-Ashiry confirmed the trucks were released after the government contacted the Libyan authorities.

Since the 2011 revolution that ousted autocrat Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan authorities have struggled to combat brigades of former rebels and Islamist militias who have easy access to weaponry.

In January, five Egyptian diplomats were kidnapped in the capital Tripoli in retaliation for Egypt's arrest of a Libyan militia chief.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians work in Libya, mostly as labourers, but the number has sharply diminished three years after the uprising.

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