Egypt's Foreign Ministry says at least a dozen Egyptians have been killed in clashes with smugglers in central Libya.

Spokesman Ahmed Abu-Zeid said in a statement Wednesday that 12 to 16 Egyptian illegal migrants were killed in clashes in the town of Beni Walid.

He says Egyptian officials are communicating with Libyan authorities in the area to identify those who were killed and repatriate their bodies.

Libya has become a major conduit for migration from Africa and the Middle East toward Europe as smugglers have exploited the country's chaos. Libya has mostly been ruled by militias since the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi.