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article imageDeath toll rises in Egypt as tensions spread to Libya

By R. Francis Rubio     Jan 26, 2014 in World
Cairo - With at least 49 dead, and hundreds injured in clashes between protesters and security forces, possibly the last thing stability in Egypt needs is tension with Libya, after five Egyptian diplomats are reportedly kidnapped in Tripoli.
Three years after the toppling of Egypt's autocrat President Hosni Mubarak, the country seems to be more volatile than ever. The death toll from anti-government marches on Saturday has risen to near fifty, from the twenty-nine reported killed just one day ago.
According to the Egypt's Health Ministry, at least 49 people have been killed and approximately 250 are reported injured in Cairo and other surrounding provinces. Also, in a statement released Sunday, the Interior Ministry said it has arrested 1,079 protesters for various crimes, including possession of weapons such as rifles, bombs and fireworks. Authorities have also confirmed the death of at least four Egyptian soldiers as well.
According to a Reuters report, Egyptian security forces have used tear gas and some even fired automatic weapons at protesters in an effort to prevent them from reaching the heart of the 2011 uprising, Tahrir Square.
Adding to the turmoil, the nearby city of Suez was rocked by explosions and gunfire on Friday after a car-bomb explodes near an Egyptian police camp, killing at least five people.
Meanwhile in neighboring Libya, five Egyptian diplomats are reported to have been captured by kidnappers in Tripoli. According to reports, the diplomats were taken from their homes on Friday and Saturday in retaliation for Egypt's arrest of a Libyan militia chief.
The kidnappers call themselves Libyan revolutionaries, and are demanding the release of Libyan militia chief Shaban Hadia.
"We won't free the diplomats unless the sheikh is freed within 24 hours," the kidnappers proclaimed. However, they did not detail what would happen if their demands were not met.
A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry has confirmed that Hadia had been under investigation. "If there is no charge at the end of it he will be released," the spokesman told Al-Arabia television. Adding, "He will be treated kindly and we expect good treatment of the Egyptians."
Libyan officials say they are in contact with the kidnappers.
Egypt has since evacuated its embassy along with its consulate in Benghazi.
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