Thursday 18 January 2018

New Isil horror video shows 21 kidnapped Christians being beheaded on beach

Harriet Alexander and Louisa Loveluck

Isil jihadists have released a video showing the murder of 21 Egyptians, who they captured in Libya around Christmas.

The Egyptians, dressed in orange jumpsuits, were beheaded after being forced down on the ground. The video appeared on the Twitter feed of a website that supports the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

A caption on the five-minute video read: "The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church."

The 21 men, all migrant workers hailing from impoverished areas of central Egypt, were kidnapped between late December and early January. Fourteen came from the same village, Al-Our. Isil claims to have established affiliate groups in three different areas of Libya, a common destination for Egyptian Christians.

A witness to the abductions of several of the men said that black-clad jihadists had entered their living quarters in the middle of the night, carrying a list of named Christians.

Relations in adjoining rooms were left cowering behind their doors, waiting for the jihadists to break them down. But the terrorists left suddenly, apparently after kidnapping an allotted quota of victims.

The story of Isil's Egyptian hostages is entwined with those of the region's soured Arab Spring revolutions.

They left Egypt, their families say, for a better life. Four years after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, the country's battle-scarred economy offered them little work.

Every year, thousands of Egyptians are lured to Libya by the prospect of salaries up to seven times greater than those they can command at home.

The government of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has faced heavy criticism from the families of the hostages, who say they have seen no concrete attempts to resolve the situation.

It was also announced on Saturday that a second group of 21 Egyptians had been kidnapped in Libya - this time from Misrata. It was not clear why Isil had started seizing groups of 21 people.

Meanwhile, Italy closed its embassy in Libya yesterday and stepped up its call for a UN mission to calm the worsening conflict there.

Libya is unravelling, with two rival governments operating their own armed forces under separate parliaments.

Violence appears to be intensifying in Libya, where Isil is active. (© Daily Telegraph, London, and agencies)

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