File photo: Egyptians cross from Libya to Egypt through the Salloum land port gate (Photo: AP)
Libya’s internationally recognised government said it had arrested the culprits behind the detention and mistreatment of a group of Egyptian workers in Libya in an incident that has sparked widespread outrage.
Footage circulated on social media in recent days purportedly showed militias loyal to Libya’s UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA) abusing a large number of Egyptian workers captured in the western city of Tarhuna.
The video showed the Egyptian workers forced to stand barefoot on one leg with their hands raised. The men appeared to be repeating, on an unidentified man’s order, expletives against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Libya's eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar.
The Tripoli-based Interior Ministry said on Wednesday it had identified the location of the incident and captured the perpetrators.
Authorities “have discovered the identity of those involved in this incident and arrested them,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that they will be referred to prosecutors.
Authorities have also identified the assaulted Egyptian workers who have been set free and are back to their normal life, it added.
The ministry said the abuses the Egyptian nationals have been subjected to “contravene laws, norms and ethics”, while vowing to guarantee their “full legal rights”.
The video has provoked huge outcry in Egypt, with Emigration Minister Nabila Makram saying it "will not pass lightly".
On Tuesday, the United Nations expressed alarm about the “detention and ill-treatment” of the Egyptians, while calling on Libyan authorities to "conduct a prompt investigation".
The Arab League has also denounced the incident.
Libya, which has descended into chaos since the 2011 uprising, has been split between two rival administrations in the east and the west.
Egypt, along with the United Arab Emirates and Russia, backs Haftar who is fighting the forces of the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli, which is backed by Turkey.
Earlier this month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced a peace initiative to end the civil war in Libya which proposes a ceasefire and an elected leadership council.