The Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty denied Tuesday morning that there are “developments” in the situation of kidnapped Egyptians in Libya.
The Libyan interim government’s spokesman Mohamed Bazzaza had said Monday his government is willing to facilitate the return of 13 Coptic Egyptians kidnapped Saturday, according to Egyptian state-run news agency MENA.
“I have no confirmed information about their situation,” Abdelatty said, however.
A tribal leader in the Libyan city of Sirte, Moftah Marzouk, had announced the release of the 13 Egyptians, according to Libyan news portal Al-Wasat.
Marzouk however denied that the Egyptian nationals were kidnapped, and said they were detained by a trafficker over a money related dispute as they headed to Harawa village, east of Sirte.
Over the past week, 20 Egyptians, all of them Christian, were kidnapped in two separate incidents. The Egyptian foreign ministry announced earlier this week that it is in extensive communication with the Libyan government and local authorities in the city of Sirte following the kidnapping.
A “crisis cell” to “secure the lives of Egyptians kidnapped in Libya” and work on their release was formed Monday, upon the orders of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
The crisis cell, including representatives of all ministries and security apparatuses engaging in contact with concerned Libyan parties, convened to discuss the “circumstances” surrounding the two incidents, the foreign ministry statement said.
The ministry has repeatedly issued warnings to Egyptians from travelling to Libya, given the gravity of the security conditions in the restive North African country. It further called on Egyptians currently residing in Libya to find refuge in safe areas away from clashes, and stay clear of militia strongholds.
Libya is currently witnessing ongoing battles between the government and armed militias who are battling for territory and control, leaving scores dead and wounded. This has led to the collapse of the democratic transition process, following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
The increasingly dangerous conditions have forced thousands of people to flee the country in the summer, including hundreds of Egyptian nationals who were evacuated with the help of the Egyptian foreign ministry.