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Up to 1,770 Egyptians have returned from Libya: Official

Egyptians flee Libya through the Salloum border, after Egyptian airstrikes against IS targets in the country on Monday

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Feb 2015

Until Thursday morning, up to 1,770 Egyptians had returned home from Lybia, the head of the security directorate in Egypt's western governorate of Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border, has told Egyptian state news agency MENA.

Major General Al-Anany Hamouda told MENA that tight security measures have been taken at the Salloum border, where many Egyptians are fleeing Libya. 

Egypt launched airstrikes against Islamic State militant group targets in Libya's eastern city of Derna early on Monday, hours after the group released a video of it beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian hostages.

For decades, Libya has been a major destination for Egyptian migrant workers due to its once booming oil economy, geographical proximity and open borders.

Until April 2011, Egyptians were allowed to enter and reside in Libya without a visa.

No official number exists for Egyptian workers in Libya, Egypt's manpower minister Nahed El-Ashri told the press on Friday, because large numbers travel illegally into the oil-rich North African country. She however estimated the number to stand between 800,000 and 900,000.

Other unofficial estimates bump up the number to 1.5 million Egyptian workers.

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