An Egyptian man was kidnapped Monday in the Libyan city of Sabha by unknown abductors, according to local Libyan media.
Security sources identified the man to local Libyan media as Arfan Salem, 47, and added that the man’s wife said a ransom of LYD 70,000 (Libyan dinars) was demanded for his release. Repeated requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment or confirm the incident were denied.
Thousands of Egyptians have fled Libya for security reasons in recent months. The number of returnees surged following the beheading of 20 Egyptians in February by “Islamic State” affiliates in Sirte, Libya.
Many Egyptians have escaped and returned to Egypt due to the violence. However, the number of returnees is a small proportion of the total migrants to Libya, estimated to be around one million.
Further, Egyptians continue to try to flee to Libya, and have been arrested trying to do so several times. The Egyptian government banned its citizens from travelling to Libya for safety reasons.
Kidnappings of Egyptians and other migrants to Libya by militants are a common occurrence in the unrest that has swept the country since the fall and death of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya descended into turmoil following Gaddafi’s capture and killing by rebel forces. Several armed tribes refused to lay down their arms, and a struggle for power turned violent, resulting in the ongoing civil war.
There are now two rival governments, with the internationally-recognised one forced to convene in the eastern city of Tobruk. A rival parliament and cabinet, dominated by Islamist group Libya Dawn, is based in the capital Tripoli, after the city was overrun by Islamists.
A civil war continues to unfold between the Islamist-backed government in the west, and the internationally-backed administration in the east of the country.
The crisis escalated when General Khalifa Haftar declared war against the Islamists, with the support of military units and militias loyal to him. Haftar is now the Tobruk-based government’s Minister of Defence.
A new front recently opened in the war, with militant groups pledging allegiance to the regional radical group “Islamic State”. The group fights against both sides of the already existing civil war, and has clashed with Islamist fighters, including Al-Qaeda affiliates, on several occasions.