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- UNHCR Update Libya (17 January 2020)
CAIRO, Feb 13 — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered speedy evacuations of Egyptians who are residing in neighboring Libya and want to return home after Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) militants claimed the kidnapping of 21 Coptic Egyptians, the local al-Masry al-Youm news website reported late Thursday.
Egypt’s foreign ministry reiterated its warning to Egyptians not to travel to Libya, and requested its countrymen residing in the neighboring country to be vigilant and stay away from high-tension areas, an official told al-Masry al-Youm.
Meanwhile, the state-owned English-language Ahram Online cited a presidential statement saying that Egypt was closely following developments in the kidnapping of 21 Coptic Egyptians in Libya, following the release of a report by IS on Thursday.
IS showed photographs of the kidnapped Egyptians in orange jumpsuits.
A special committee tasked with securing the return of the kidnapped Egyptians is “following the matter minute-by-minute, making extensive and ongoing contacts with official and non-official concerned Libyan parties in order to clarify the situation and learn the truth,” read a statement by the office of the president on Thursday.
IS claimed that the men had been captured to avenge what they say is the kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church.
Calling the abducted men “Coptic crusaders” the report says that Egyptian Christian women who converted to Islam were “tortured and murdered” by the Coptic Orthodox Church.
There are spats between some Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt over the allegations that the Orthodox Church in the country is not allowing Christian women to convert to Islam. However, the allegations were never made on an official level.