CAIRO – More than 25,000 Egyptians have fled Libya since the beheading of around 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians by the Libyan branch of the Islamic State jihadist group, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced Friday.
The massive exodus of Egyptian citizens living or working in Libya began on Feb. 16 following the release of a video in which jihadists loyal to IS showed the beheadings of the Copts who had been kidnapped in the northern city of Sirte.
A Foreign Ministry statement said that a total of 21,407 of those Egyptians returning home entered Egypt through the border crossing of Al Salum in the northwest of the country.
Another 4,122 arrived by air at Cairo International Airport from Tunisia, where they arrived through the border crossing of Ras Ajdir, linking Libya and Tunisia.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Aty told Efe earlier this week that there was no evacuation operation organized by the government and it was a voluntary decision by those citizens who decided to return home.
Following the release of the video of the beheading, the Egyptian Air Force bombed jihadist targets in Libya.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered his government to ban Egyptians from traveling to Libya, as well as to facilitate the return of citizens to Egypt.