CAIRO: The families of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped in Libya’s Tripoli by the Islamic State group, protested Monday outside the United Nations (U.N.) office and the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, calling for help to secure their release.
On Jan. 12, The IS group in Libya published photos of the men, announcing its responsibility for their kidnapping from Sirte, according to a statement by the group media office in Tripoli, al-Arabyia news reported. Immediately the relatives identified the kidnapped people.
Egyptian Copts in particular seem to have been targeted by Islamic militant groups in Libya in the ongoing security vacuum in the country. In late December, three Copts were killed by unknown assailants in Sirte. Seven Coptic Egyptians were shot dead on Feb. 24, 2014 in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.
The protesters raised a banner of photos of their abducted relatives and called the international community help them, Youm7 reported.
The relatives also submitted to the U.N. office a petition requesting it contact the conflicting factions in Libya to accelerate their sons’ release.
The families met Monday with the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel-Atty and the Egyptian ambassador to Libya Mohamed Abu Bakr, according to a statement issued from the ministry.
Abdel Atty assured the relatives that Egyptian authorities are in continuous contact with the Libyan officials and tribes sheikhs, saying “we will not calm down until the crisis is over.”
He noted that the situation in Libya is “deteriorating and is complicated” because there are no Egyptian officials in the Libyan territories, and called on families to be patient during “such a critical situation,” according to the statement.
The diplomatic staff from the former Egyptian embassy in Libya now operating from Cairo, after the embassy headquarters were targeted in Tripoli in November.
Many Egyptian nationals have been killed in Libya during the past few months; due to the security crisis, thousands of Egyptians have fled Libya following warnings from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Algeria has opened its borders with Libya in order for Egyptian nationals to flee the violence.