By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Egypt’s military said Monday, February 16, it bombed Islamic State targets after the militant group published a video showing the beheading of several Egyptian Coptic Christians it had held hostage for six weeks.
On Sunday, February 15, BosNewsLife already obtained photos published by the group’s English language magazine Dabiq, used for propaganda and recruitment, showing the abducted men with knives put over their throats in a slaughter position.
The story on attacking “the Coptic Crusaders” claimed the Christians, who were abducted in Libya while working in construction, were “captured by members of the organization in retaliation of what the West inflicts upon Muslims.”
In the video, released soon after, the Islamic State group showed fighters of the self-proclaimed Tripolitania Province in Libya beheading more than a dozen Egyptian Christians.
It was not immediately clear whether all 21 missing Christians had been killed, or whether some may still be alive.
The Christians were among thousands of Egyptians who routinely travel across the border to Libya to find work in its oil-rich economy, forging a deep connection between the two neighboring states. The 21 Egyptian Christians disappeared around the midcoastal city of Surt, also spelled as Sirte, six weeks ago.
In a televised address late Sunday night, February 15, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt vowed that his country would choose the “necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings.” He also declared seven days of mourning.
Early Monday, February 16, Egyptian state television announced retaliation attacks with a short video montage showing fighter planes taking off. Images of soldiers, tanks and warships, could also be seen,
set against a soaring musical score.
It was narrated by a deep male voice, familiar to those who heard military announcements when the generals seized power from President Hosni Mubarak four years ago.
“Honor, nation,” the narrator said according to a translation provided by The New York Times website.
“This is the slogan of men who ask for death as a sacrifice for the nation. They are men who do not know the meaning of impossible. They penetrate rocks and mountains, and they challenge difficulties. They race each other for martyrdom, on land, sea and air. Their life is a heroic epic, and their martyrdom a sacrifice for dignity, and a pride for Egypt.”
A military statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.”
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” it said. In separate remarks, Libya’s air force announced it had bombed positions in the eastern city of Darna, which was taken over by an Islamic State affiliate last year.
Western observers say the latest killings of Christians underscores that the Islamic State group, which
already controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate, is expanding or has
direct affiliate less than 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the southern tip of Italy.
The Associated Press news agency said one of the militants in the video made direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”
Christians are in the crossfire. Since June, as many as 150,000 Christians have fled their homes
in especially Iraq and Syria, after Islamic State militants invaded regions of northern Iraq, including the largely Christian city of Mosul, and Syrian areas.
They are now joined by minority Christians in Libya as the Islamic State group is expanding its territory. Besides the construction workers, several other Christians have been killed in recent weeks. In December, a young Egyptian couple working as medical aid workers and their teenage daughter were killed for their Christian faith by suspected Islamic militants.
Why people are ready to suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ? Want to know more what they believe? Click here
(BosNewsLife (2004-2015) is the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians. It has been ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since May 2004. Please help BosNewsLife to remain a voice of the voiceless. Click here for a subscription).
Visit BosNewsLife’s Link Partners:
http://www.religiousfreedomcoalition.org Raising its voice for religious freedom. Every day.
http://www.thejerusalemgiftshop.com/ Visit them at these strategic times and support believers in Israel.
http://christmasforrefugees.org/ A real Christmas for Syrian and Iraqi children refugees.