Egypt army opens hospitals as Libyans quit border


Libyan guards have withdrawn from their side of the border with Egypt after anti-government protests, Egypt’s army said on its Facebook page, adding it had set up two field hospitals on the frontier.

The Egyptian army said it had set up camps and the hospitals near the Salum crossing to receive Egyptians returning from Libya, where there have been increasingly bloody battles between Libyan security forces and protesters, Reuters reports.

Egypt’s state news agency said 4,000 Egyptians had returned from Libya, an oil producing country where many Egyptians have found work. Those who returned said many others could not make the journey due to a shortage of vehicles and fuel to bring them. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was under increasing pressure to hang on to power Monday when anti-government protests against his 41-year rule struck the capital Tripoli after days of violence in the east.
“Members of the Libyan border guard withdrew from (the Libyan side of the border) and it is currently in the control of people’s committees,” Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said in its Facebook message.

The statement did not make clear whether the groups now in control of the border were loyal to Gaddafi.

The army also said it would send planes to Libya to evacuate Egyptians once the situation stabilized. It said the field hospitals had been set up near the Salum border crossing.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Libya to swiftly issue permits to allow planes to enter Libyan air space so Egypt could collect citizens, the state news agency reported. He also said the Foreign Ministry had sent buses to the Salum border crossing.

Egypt rejected remarks made by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi saying Egyptians had a role in the events in Libya. Gaddafi’s son had made the accusation “without any clear basis,” the state news agency reported.

Egypt held Libya responsible for the protection of Egyptian lives and property, it said.