Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi talks to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as they arrive to attend the 23rd African Union Summit (AUS) in Malabo June 26, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn phoned Egypt’s President El-Sisi to express his thanks for the Egyptian government’s efforts in the rescue of a group of Ethiopians kidnapped by militants in Libya, according to a presidential statement on Friday.
Egyptian officials have claimed that the Egyptian armed forces freed the Ethiopian workers, who arrived at Cairo airport on Thursday morning, after they were kidnapped in Libya.
Reuters, however, reported one of the Ethiopians as saying that they had been detained by Libyan immigration officials, not armed groups, before Egypt intervened to fly the men home. An unnamed Libyan official confirmed that account to Reuters.
The Egyptian president personally received the 27 Ethiopians, all Christian, when they arrived at the airport.
El-Sisi also stressed to the Ethiopian prime minister that the fate of Egyptians and Ethiopians fleeing Libya is the same and that the Egyptian government will take all the necessary efforts, Al-Ahram Arabic reported the statement as saying.
On 7 May, 13 Ethiopians arrived in Khartoum in the first successful evacuation of more than 300 Ethiopian workers who registered to leave the troubled country through coordination between Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and the Libyan government.
In April, the Islamic State militant group published a video showing the killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians who had been kidnapped in Libya.
In February, Egypt launched airstrikes on what it said were Islamic State targets in Libya’s Derna and Sirte, after IS published a graphic video online showing the beheading of 20 Egyptian Christians kidnapped in Libya.