Families of Coptic Christian workers kidnapped in Libya demonstrated in front of the UN office in Cairo last month

Egypt ready for Libya evacuations as IS hostage photos emerge

Egypt has offered to evacuate its citizens from Libya after Islamic State (IS) released photos which it says show 21 Coptic Egyptians kidnapped there.


President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said Egyptians would be airlifted out of Libya, state-run news agency Mena said.

The pictures of the hostages were released in the latest online edition of IS magazine Dabiq.

A number of Egyptian Coptic Christians were kidnapped in two raids in Sirte, Libya, in December and January.

A statement from the office of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said a special committee was closely following events in order to "clarify the situation and learn the truth".

The foreign ministry has warned Egyptians not to travel to Libya, and said those already residing in the country should avoid areas of high tension.

The IS photographs show the captives with their hands cuffed behind their backs being marched in single file, lead by masked men dressed entirely in black.

The hostages are dressed in bright orange jumpsuits - the type worn by captives about to be executed by IS.

The militant group said the Egyptians had been recently kidnapped to avenge the fate of Muslim women "tortured and murdered by the Coptic church of Egypt".

The magazine says the group's expansion into Libya allows it "to easily capture Coptic crusaders".

It is not clear whether any or all of the hostages shown in the photographs are among those who were kidnapped in raids in Sirte on 31 December and 3 January.

The coastal town is under the control of Islamic militant groups.

Thousands of Egyptians are currently working in Libya, many of them in the construction sector.

In February 2014, the bodies of seven Egyptian Christians who had been shot dead were found on a beach near the city of Benghazi.

Estimates as to the number of Copts living in Egypt today range from about nine million to 15 million out of a total population of about 87 million.


Credit: The BBC

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