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Official in Cairo says 46 Egyptians held in Libya

March 14, 2014

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya detained 46 Egyptians for allegedly living in the country illegally, Libyan and Egyptian officials said Friday.

A spokesman for Libya’s Interior Ministry, Rami Kaal, said the 46 were detained and their visas were being investigated to determine if they were valid. If found not to be, they would be deported, he said.

Ali el-Ashiri, an assistant to Egypt’s foreign minister for consular affairs, confirmed the arrests were over illegal residency and said Egyptian officials are trying to free them. Another official had initially said armed men seized 70 Egyptians from their home in the Libyan capital of Tripoli under unclear circumstances.

Libya traditionally has hosted a large number of Egyptian workers, who come to work in the country’s oil fields and construction industry.

Lawlessness abounds in Libya after dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s 2011 overthrow. Six Egyptians, including diplomats, were taken hostage in Tripoli in January but were released days later. In February, seven Egyptian Christians were shot dead in the eastern city of Benghazi.

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