5 Egyptian troops held hostage in Libya freed: Sudan security

Five Egyptian troops held hostage in Libya were freed on Monday in a joint operation carried out by Sudanese and Egyptian intelligence services, security officers from the two countries said.

The soldiers had been seized along the Egyptian-Libyan border and held captive in southern Libya, a Sudanese security officer said, while the Egyptian military said they were part of a patrol that had gone missing.

"Five Egyptian soldiers who were abducted along the Libyan-Egyptian border and held hostage by outlaws have been freed today," said Brigadier Mohamed Hamid from Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

"The rescue operation was carried out in coordination with NISS, Sudanese military intelligence and the Egyptian intelligence service."

The troops had been taken to southern Libya from where they were rescued on Monday, Hamid told reporters at Khartoum airport after the soldiers were brought to Sudan. He did not say when the soldiers had been seized.

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"They have been handed over to Egyptian intelligence now," Hamid said, adding that the entire operation took several days to be executed.

The Egyptian military confirmed the release of its soldiers.

"The Egyptian armed forces extend their gratitude and appreciation to the Sudanese armed forces and security apparatuses in cooperating with them for the return of the missing patrol," Egyptian military spokesperson Colonel Tamer Refaie told AFP in Cairo.

In a separate report by the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC), which is close to NISS, a security source was quoted as saying that the five troops were freed in an operation carried out by NISS agents.

The rescue of the Egyptian soldiers is expected to help boost Cairo-Khartoum ties, which have improved in recent months.

Relations between the two were strained last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused Egyptian intelligence services of supporting opposition figures fighting his troops in Sudan's conflict areas like Darfur.

Ties between the two countries received a fresh push this month when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Khartoum in what was his first overseas trip since being re-elected for a second term.