A family member of one of 27 Egyptian Coptic Christian workers who have been kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte, sits crying in front of a banner with pictures of the workers, in Cairo, February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for an urgent meeting late Sunday of the National Defence Council after a video showing the beheadings of Egyptian abductees in Libya surfaced.
Sisi declared a week of mourning over the victims and expressed condolences to their families.
A video was released earlier today featuring images of the kidnapped Egyptian Copts being led by men clad in black, except for one, along the shore of Tripoli, according to video subtitles.
The video was titled “a message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.”
Twenty-one Coptic Egyptians were abducted in the Libyan city of Sirte on two separate occasions in December and January, only one week apart.
The spokesman of Egypt’s Orthodox Church said “we are still communicating with official state bodies,” state-run news agency MENA cited him as saying.
Spokesman Boulos Halim described the video as “painful” and confirmed the identities of the abductees.
Shortly after the video’s release, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry held an urgent meeting with members of the “crisis cell”, formed by Sisi in January to follow up on the kidnappings, to discuss possible arrangements in coordination with state apparatuses.
In the video, the speaker delivers a message after which the abductees, who were kneeling, were forced to lie down and had their throats slit simultaneously.
After the beheadings, the speaker says the killings were “were in revenge for Camilia and her sisters.”
Camilia Shehata is an Egyptian woman who was at the centre of controversy back in 2010 after her disappearance following news that she converted from Christianity to Islam. A group of Egypt’s conservative Muslims believe that she was eventually forced back into Christianity.
The video footage is consistent with images that had been released on social media on Thursday, showing the kidnapped Egyptians in orange jumpsuits with the sea in the backdrop.