Armed Libyans detained Saturday 150 Egyptian trucks heading from Libya to Egypt, along with their drivers, in protest at Egyptian authorities slamming a life sentence on a Libyan smuggler.
The drivers are being held in Libya’s Ajdabiya district, Omran Ambewa, member of Al-Qanashat tribe — a tribe with presence in both Egypt and Libya — told Ahram Arabic website, Ahram Online reported.
Negotiations between the armed Libyans, military intelligence and tribal chieftains are currently underway to release the Egyptian drivers and their trucks.
On Wednesday, Egyptian authorities slammed Libyan Salama Mohamed Salama with 25 years in prison after he was caught smuggling weapons through the Libyan-Egyptian border.
Egyptian authorities have repeatedly warned Egyptians against travelling to Libya. This is not the first mass abduction targeting Egyptians.
In January, five Egyptian diplomats were kidnapped by militants in retaliation for Egyptian authorities arresting a Libyan militia leader in Cairo. Their release, however, was secured.
In February, seven Egyptian Coptic Christians were found dead on a beach 30 kilometers West of Benghazi, shot in the head and chest by unknown attackers.
Libya is a major destination for Egyptians seeking work abroad. According to a 2010 report by the International Organization for Migration, some 1.5 million Egyptians were working in Libya at that time.
However, the number of Egyptian expats in the country fell sharply after the NATO-backed Libyan uprising in 2011/12, which saw the ouster and death of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.