CAIRO: Egypt calls on the US-led coalition to confront the “terrorist organization” of the Islamic State group (IS) in Libya, the Foreign Ministry stated Monday.
“Egypt renews its demand for the international coalition against terrorist organization of ISIS, in which Egypt is a member, to assume its responsibility for Egypt’s political and financial support and take necessary measures to confront ISIS organization and other similar terrorist organizations on Libyan territories,” the ministry stated.
A video was released late Sunday night showing IS members beheading 21 Egyptian hostages who had been abducted in early January in Sirte. The group had released photos of the group days earlier showing the hostages in orange jumpsuits, similar to those other IS prisoners had been forced to wear before execution.
Egyptian armed forces and Libya’s air force announced Monday they had launched airstrikes targeting alleged Islamic State bases in Libya’s Derna and Sirte.
In a televised speech after the video of the murders was released President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed to avenge the killings and said Egypt has the right to respond with “the adequate means.”
Sisi also announced a seven-day national mourning period in respect for those murdered.
Hours later, the army released a video and a statement announcing it had launched “concentrated air strikes” targeting the group’s training camps and weapons stores in Derna, located eastern Libya, during the early hours of Monday.
Minya blanketed with tears and sadness
A state of sadness permeated the home villages of the 21 murdered Egyptians, all Copts from Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate.
Since the kidnapping that took place approximately 45 days ago, the village of El-Our had been on alert to hear good news about their family members. On Sunday, the families received confirmation on the deaths, and some of them managed to identify their relatives in the video.
In each home, there were grieving families, widows and bereaved parents, who collapsed and some were transferred to hospital after hearing the news.
Neighbors also showed solidarity with the families of the killed Copts and some cancelled planned wedding parties to mourn the deceased, reported Youm7.
The victims’ families gathered Monday for funeral at the Virgin Mary Church in Minya.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab ordered the Ministry of Solidarity to pay 100,000 EGP (U.S. $13k) to the family of each victim of the 21 killed Copts, and that the families would receive all “martyrs’ privileges.”
Sisi headed Monday morning to the Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo’s Abasseya district to offer his condolences.
Egypt’s Al-Azhar institute and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria issued statements right after the killings’ announcement condemning the crime.
The killing was highly denounced in foreign government statements as “heinous, barbaric, savage and brutal.”
Additional reporting by Kareem Abdel Kareem from Minya and Hend Mokhtar