The remains of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Daesh militants on a beach in Libya three years ago will be repatriated, local media has reported.
Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper quoted a senior Libyan official as saying that DNA taken from the bodies of the victims had been handed over to Egypt’s top prosecutor so they could be matched with samples from the victims’ families.
Al-Seddik Al-Sur, director of the attorney general’s office, reportedly told a press conference: “Libyan authorities will repatriate the remains of the martyred Copts to Egypt.” He did not specify a date for their repatriation.
Twenty-one Coptic Christians working in Libya were beheaded by Daesh militants on a beach near the city of Sirte, then a militant stronghold, in February 2015. Their bodies were found more than a year later.
The case shocked Egypt and underlined the extremists’ growing reach across the Middle East and North Africa.
Twenty of the victims were found to be Egyptian, while one of them was of unknown African nationality. Reports said he was Ghanaian.
Soon after carrying out the killings Daesh posted a graphic video of the incident, vowing to fight those they described as “crusaders.”
Dressed in orange overalls, the Copts were forced to the ground and then decapitated by the masked, knife-wielding militants.
The horrific footage prompted Egypt to launch retaliatory airstrikes against Daesh affiliates in Libya, a country that has been mired in turmoil since a popular uprising backed by a NATO-led military intervention in 2011 toppled leader Muammar Qaddafi.
“Our martyrs can finally lay to rest now, in their home country,” Samir Girgis, a Cairo-based Coptic accountant, told Arab News. Most of the victims came from the Minya governorate in Upper Egypt.