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29.05.2019 Libya

Haftar’s Libyan National Army says it has returned militant to Egypt

REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
MAY 29, 2019 LIBYA

The Libyan National Army, an armed group loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar, said on Wednesday it had handed over an Egyptian militant back to Cairo, as Egyptian pro-government television broadcast footage of his arrival via military plane.

"The Libyan armed forces handed over the terrorist Hisham El-Ashmawi to the Egyptian general intelligence Tuesday evening," according to the report.

Ashmawi, a former special forces Egyptian army officer, is wanted in Egypt for an attempted assassination of a minister as well as a number of attacks, including in the Western Desert region.

The former officer left the army in 2012 and joined Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of the Holy House in Arabic), a group that operated in the Sinai Peninsula, attacking Egyptian and Israeli targets.

Ashmawi allegedly went to Libya in 2013. He was captured by Haftar's LNA in October 2018 in Derna, a town the LNA had taken over last summer.

Haftar handed over Ashmawi after meeting Egyptian intelligence head Abbas Kamel in Benghazi, Libya, where Haftar is based, according to statements made by LNA on social media.

A controversial figure, Haftar is pushing to take Tripoli, Libya, where the UN-backed Libya government is based.