A jihadi website circulated photos Monday of kidnapped Christians, allegedly released by the Islamic State’s branch in Libya. It is still unclear whether the captives are the Coptic Egyptians who went missing in Libya earlier this month.
So-called State of Tripoli’s press office released Monday photos of 21 men who were described as “captive crusaders” captured by the militant group in the outskirts of “Tripoli province.”
Twenty Coptic Christian Egyptians were kidnapped at the start of the year in the city of Sirte on the north coast of Libya. The term used in the Islamic State’s statement, “Tripoli province”, refers to the historic Tripoli, which administratively included the current city of Sirte until the 1960s.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty told Daily News Egypt Tuesday that a “crisis cell is convened and communications are ongoing to work out the crisis”.
The Egyptian government formed a “crisis cell” on 5 January upon the orders of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to “secure the lives of Egyptians kidnapped in Libya” and work on their release.
Reports about the release of kidnapped Egyptians, quoting a tribal leader in Sirte, were denied by the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Ten more Egyptians were claimed to have been kidnapped in Libya near the city of Beni Walid on 7 January, according to their families in Egypt.
The foreign ministry has repeatedly issued warnings to Egyptians against travelling to Libya, given the gravity of the security conditions in the restive North African country. It further called on Egyptians currently residing in Libya to find refuge in safe areas away from clashes and stay clear from militia strongholds.
Libya is currently witnessing ongoing battles between the government and armed militias who are battling for territory and control, leaving scores dead and wounded. This has led to the collapse of the democratic transition process, following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
The increasingly dangerous conditions have forced thousands of people to flee the country in the summer, including hundreds of Egyptian nationals who were evacuated with the help of the Egyptian foreign ministry.
An Egyptian national who was working in a farm in Benghazi was found killed Monday, state-run news agency MENA reported.
Head of the Red Crescent Association in the city said that the owner of the farm reported finding the Egyptian’s body, and he suggested that theft was behind the killing.
The Libyan Coast Guard Authority announced Monday that it detained a boat with 15 Egyptian fishermen on board in Libyan territorial waters, according to Anadolu news Agency.
A coast guard patrol demanded from the fishing boat to stop, and when the fishermen tried to flee the patrol detained them.
The deteriorating security conditions in the neighbouring country were also behind a 300 Egyptian fishermen going missing Friday near Misrata, east of Libya’s capital Tripoli, amid battles in the troubled region, before Egyptian authorities facilitated their return to Egypt.