Ethiopians reported kidnapped in Libya arrive at Cairo airport
Sisi has repeatedly called for international efforts to combat Islamist militants in Libya, which has descended into chaos
A group of Ethiopians reported to have been kidnapped in Libya arrived at Cairo airport on Thursday after Egyptian authorities managed to get them released, Egyptian state television said.
The station aired live footage from the airport where Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi greeted about 30 Ethiopians who had arrived on an Egyptian government plane.
It gave no details of their identity, the manner of their release or circumstances of detention.
Sisi has repeatedly called for international efforts to combat Islamist militants in Libya, which has descended into chaos since veteran autocrat Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings.
The former army chief has portrayed himself as a champion of moderate Islam in a battle against what he calls the global existential threat from groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Last month, a video purportedly made by ISIS and posted on social media sites, appeared to show militants shooting and beheading about 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.
Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the video but the killings resemble past violence carried out by ISIS, an ultra-hardline group which has expanded its reach from strongholds in Iraq and Syria to conflict-ridden Libya.
Militants professing loyalty to ISIS have claimed several high-profile attacks on foreigners in Libya this year, including an assault on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in February.
The killing of the Egyptians prompted Sisi to order air strikes on ISIS targets in OPEC oil-producer Libya.
Libya’s mayhem has complicated Sisi’s efforts to combat hardline Islamist groups at home, including pro-ISIS militants based in the Sinai who are seeking to topple his U.S.-backed government.
“What happens in Libya is a concern for all of us, and we are saying to the world that Libya should return a safe and stable country for its people and even to its visitors,” Sisi told reporters at the airport.
“We were very concerned about our Ethiopian brothers after the criminal beheading during the previous days.”