Reports: Islamic State Kidnaps 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya

Egyptian president orders evacuation of remaining citizens

Militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate the group's declaration of an Islamic state, in Fallujah
On Monday, June 30, 2014, ISIS militants celebrate the group's declaration of an Islamic state, in Fallujah / AP

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has instructed authorities to assist with the evacuation of Egyptians from neighboring Libya after the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group claimed it had kidnapped 21 Coptic Christians there, Al Arabiya reports.

IS published photos of the Egyptian Coptics—wearing orange jumpsuits, handcuffed, and blindfolded—in the latest issue of its online English outlet Dabiq. The terrorist group called the 21 hostages "Coptic crusaders" and alleged that the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt had tortured and killed Egyptian Christians who converted to Islam.

There are conflicting reports about whether IS killed the Egyptian Christians. Some Libyan jihadists tweeted that they had obtained "revenge" against the Christians.

Families of the abducted say they are concerned about their relatives’ fates and have received scant information from Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thousands of Egyptians work in the construction industry in Libya, where seven Christians were also shot and killed last year near Benghazi.

IS began infiltrating Libya last November with hundreds of fighters in the wake of the country’s collapse. Islamist militias seized control of Libya’s parliament last summer and have been accused of trafficking arms to IS in eastern Libya as well as jihadist groups in Egypt.