Reuters said that security forces in eastern Libya expelled thousands of Egyptians who were in Libya illegally in recent days, deporting them to Egypt on foot across the land border, according to an Egyptian security source and an eastern Libyan security source.

The Libyan security source said that 4000 immigrants had been found during raids on people traffickers following a shootout between security forces and smugglers. The source added that the immigrants were all deported.

The Egyptian security source indicated that only about 2,200 of the 4000 immigrants who were found by Libyan security forces were there illegally and they were the only ones deported.

“Most of them were Egyptians, but some held other African nationalities. When they were deported, they were taken to a location close to the border and then walked about 2 km (1.25 miles) into Egypt,” the Egyptian security source said. While the Libyan source told Reuters that the security forces had destroyed a harbour used by people smugglers.

The Libyan News Agency in Benghazi said last Thursday that joint military and security units arrested more than 1000 illegal immigrants of different nationalities who were found in the farms and homes of smugglers in the border city of Emssaed.

The Libyan News Agency added that the military and security units were also able to find farms where there were workshops for the manufacture of wooden boats for smuggling immigrants, saying that the operations by the military and security units would continue until they arrest all smugglers and drug dealers in Emssaed.

Meanwhile, the Italian Interior Ministry said that Libya exceeded Tunisia in the number of immigrants arriving on Italian shores, becoming the first transit country from which "secret immigration boats leave."