Egyptian fighter planes struck Islamic State targets in Libya today, just hours after the extremist group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians it had held hostage for weeks.
An armed forces spokesman announced the strikes, marking the first time Cairo has publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighbouring Libya, where extremist groups seen as a threat to both countries have exploited the chaos following the 2011 uprising.
The statement said the planes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the "intense strikes" were "to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers".
"Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield to protect and safeguard the security of the country and a sword that amputates terrorism and extremism," it said.
Libya's air force meanwhile announced it had launched strikes in the eastern city of Darna, an extremist stronghold that was taken over by an Islamic State affiliate last year. A Libyan air force commander said 40 to 50 militants were killed in today's air strikes against Islamic State targets in Libya.
"There are casualties among the individuals, ammunition and the communication centres belonging to them," Saqer al-Joroushi said on Egyptian state television. "The number of deaths are not less than 40 or 50 for sure," he said.
The ISIS video purporting to show the mass beheading of the Coptic Christian hostages was released late Sunday by militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group.
The killings raise the possibility that the extremist group - which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq - has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy.