After media reports circulated on Thursday that a group Egyptian truck drivers had been kidnapped in Libya, on Friday the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY) reported that the number is in fact significantly higher than initially thought.
According to Gamal Aun, the head of truck drivers in Kafr al-Sheikh, 350 drivers have been taken hostage by militia forces in Libya. On Thursday the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram had reported that close to 250 drivers had been kidnapped.
Aun spoke to one of the hostages early on Friday. Most of the drivers are from Kafr al-Sheikh, he said, adding that their families had filed missing persons reports and asked the Foreign Ministry to intervene for their release.
The drivers were taken to the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, and were allowed to contact their families, said Al-Ahram.
Egyptian expatriates in the conflict-ridden country have consistently been targeted by various political and revolutionary forces there in the past months. In April, more than 50 Egyptian truck drivers were taken hostage in the same city, again by relatives of Libyan detainees in Egypt who were demanding their family members’ release.
In January, four staff members from the Egyptian Embassy in Tripoli were kidnapped in retaliation for the arrest of the chairman of the Libya’s Revolutionaries operations room in Alexandria.
In addition to the recent spate of kidnappings, there have also been a series of deadly attacks on Egyptians in Libya. In February, seven Christian Egyptians were shot dead in Benghazi. The victims were found handcuffed, with bullet wounds to the head and chest.