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Egypt launches airstrikes after IS video shows beheading of 21 hostages

Cairo, PTI | Updated : 16 February 2015, 02:44 PM

Islamic State militants released a video purportedly depicting the mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, drawing a strong response from the country’s army which today bombarded the training camps of the dreaded outfit.

The five-minute gruesome video shows handcuffed hostages dressed in orange jumpsuits being murdered by black-clad masked terrorists at a beach near the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

“The sea you’ve hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood,” one of the militants says towards the end of the clip.

The killings of 21 Egyptians, who were kidnapped in Libya a month ago, raise the possibility that the Islamic militant group has established a direct affiliate close to the southern Italy.

One of the militants in the video makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”

The beheadings, the first of its kind by the radical group outside the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, drew immediate condemnation in Egypt.

The Egyptian army announced in a statement today that it has conducted air strikes against Islamic State targets in Libya including training camps and arms depots.

“Your armed forces on Monday carried out focused air strikes in Libya against Daesh (IS) camps, places of gathering and training, and weapons depots,” the military said in a statement.

“Avenging the Egyptian blood from killers and criminals is Egypt’s enforceable right. This to let everyone know that Egypt has a shield that protects and safeguards it’s security and a sword that can cut off terrorism,” army spokesperson Mohamed Samir said in his statement.

Speaking on national television hours after the release of the video, Egyptian President President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said his country “reserves the right to respond in the way and timing it sees fit for retribution from these killers.”

He warned that Egypt would choose the “necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings”.

“Egypt is able to defeat terrorism; because it does that not only to defend itself, but also to defend the humanity,” the president said.

Terming the beheading of the Christians as ‘vicious’, Sisi said a new series of terrorism is spreading across the world and demanded that all people come together to fight it.

During his speech, Sisi offered his condolences to the families of the dead even as he ordered the government to ban Egyptians from travelling to Libya and facilitate the return of others from there. 

First Published: Monday, February 16, 2015 01:15 PM
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