Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Unprecedented amounts of weapons and ammunition are being smuggled into Egypt from Libya, a senior Egyptian military official said just days after suspected smugglers killed 21 Egyptian military border guards on the Egyptian–Libyan border.
The senior Egyptian military official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to speak to the media, said: “The quantities of weapons, ammunition and drugs being smuggled are unprecedented,” citing the porous 693 meter (1,115 km) long border with Libya, and the escalating security vacuum in Egypt’s western neighbor.
“It is difficult to secure the border from one side,” the official said. “The problem is that the Libyans are not securing their side of the border and this requires us to double our efforts in order to secure this vast space. This is taking a huge amount of work, in terms of the forces that must be deployed as well as the cost.”
He added that weapons, ammunition and drugs worth tens of millions of dollars were being smuggled through the border.
The 21 Egyptian border guards were killed in the New Valley governorate, which borders both Sudan and Libya. The Egyptian Border Checkpoint’s weapon storage facility was blown up in the attack, with Cairo denouncing those responsible as “terrorists.”
The senior Egyptian military official said that Cairo had further tightened security measures along the border following the attack.