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Wanted Egyptian jihadist transferred from Libya

Libyan Armed Forces, AFP file photo | This handout picture released on October 8, 2018, by the Libyan Armed Forces shows Egyptian jihadist leader Hisham al-Ashmawy after being arrested in the Libyan city of Derna.

One of the most-wanted Egyptian militants who was captured in neighbouring Libya last year has been transferred to Egypt, state media reported on Wednesday.

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Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar handed over Hisham el-Ashmawy after meeting with Egypt's intelligence services chief in Benghazi, his office said in a statement late Tuesday.

Egyptian pro-government media broadcast footage of Ashmawy arriving in Egypt on a military aircraft early Wednesday morning.

"The Libyan armed forces handed over the terrorist Hisham Ashmawy to the Egyptian general intelligence Tuesday evening," state TV said on its website.

A former officer with Egypt's special forces, Ashmawy left the army in 2012 and later joined Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which is based in the Sinai Peninsula.

Ashmawy is believed to have gone to Libya in 2013, before Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014, becoming one of Egypt's most wanted terrorists.

He is accused of being behind attacks in Egypt's Western Desert region, operating alongside Emad al-Din Abdel Hamid, another army officer-turned-jihadist chief.

Ashmawy was captured by Haftar's forces in October 2018 in the city of Derna, east of Libya.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had previously asked for the jihadist leader to be handed over.

"We want to imprison him," he said at the time.

Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, seized the city of Derna last summer.

His self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) is backed in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

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