Thousands of foreigners from Libya’s neighbouring countries have been trying to flee across the borders.
Cairo’s military rulers reinforced Egypt’s frontier but opened the main crossing 24 hours a day, especially to allow those needing medical treatment to cross.
One group of Egyptians who made it back to home soil seemed more than relieved as they cheered and chanted.
Some of their accounts describe a highly volatile situation – with mercenaries on the loose.
“Everyone carries guns, weapons,” said one man, speaking in English. “Turmoil, no security. We can’t stay here, whatever it is, we can’t stay here so we come to our country because the situation there is very, very critical and very serious.”
“We don’t know where they’re coming from,” said another man animatedly, referring to foreign mercenaries. “They’re not Libyans, they’re Africans… they’re shooting people randomly. The Libyans are trying to protect themselves from these mercenaries in several towns in the east: Tobruk, Benghazi, Al-Bayda and Darnah. These people have been flown in to shoot them.”
Several countries are seeking to evacuate their citizens.
In the east of the country Libyan guards have reportedly disappeared from the Egyptian border, replaced by armed men opposed to Colonel Gaddafi. To the west thousands of Tunisians have been flooding across the frontier.
One man had to leave his car and finish the journey across the desert on foot to escape. He kissed the ground upon his arrival on the Tunisian side of the border.
“People over there in that country, they risk death,” he said, pointing back over the frontier towards Libya.
Tunisia – fresh from its own revolution – has some 30,000 nationals in Libya. Many have been threatened by the authorities in Tripoli, accused of taking part in the revolt.