File photo: Egyptians cross from Libya to Egypt through the Salloum land port gate (AP)
Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still following the case of 15 missing Egyptians in Libya, ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid told Ahram Online on Sunday.
The fifteen migrant workers from Egypt were reportedly kidnapped and tortured in Libya earlier this month.
According to the captives' families, the kidnappers have demanded a ransom of 300,000 Libyan dinars (around EGP 4 million), threatening to kill the captives if it is not delivered.
"We cannot confirm whether they have been kidnapped or not -- we do not have an Egyptian embassy in Libya, so we are following the issue from Cairo. And we can’t tell in who’s custody they are in – it might be the authorities or it might be militant groups, nothing has been confirmed yet," Abu Zeid said.
The families of the Egyptian workers reportedly kidnapped staged a protest on Saturday in downtown Cairo, near the Egyptian press syndicate, demanding that the president interfere to bring their relatives home.
"We need President [Abdel-Fattah] El-Sisi to interfere, he is our president, who else should we go to? And what else should we do? I submitted complaints everywhere, but nothing happened," Mohamed Rabie El-Sherbiny from Damietta governorate, whose father is among the 15 kidnapped, told Ahram Online on Saturday.
Security forces dispersed the protest and four of the demonstrators were briefly detained, including two photojournalists, according to El-Sherbiny.
Last week, the brother of one of the kidnapped Egyptians, Hamada Salah, told Ahram Online he had received a message from the kidnapper telling him his brother had been killed. Salah has not been able to confirm the information.
A screenshot of the message Salah received went viral on Facebook, along with photos of the captives' torture.
Ahram Online could not independently verify the authenticity of the photos circulating on social media of the reportedly kidnapped Egyptians.
In 2015, Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs began urging citizens to avoid travel to Libya due to unstable security conditions following the killing of 20 Egyptian migrant workers near Derna by the Islamic State militant group.
The warning was renewed in 2016 and is still in effect.
Despite the government's warning and Libya's difficult economic conditions, Egyptian workers continue to migrate to the country.