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Egypt hits 'IS' targets in Libya

February 16, 2015

Egyptian warplanes have hit "Islamic State" (IS) targets in Libya. The airstrike came hours after the jihadists posted a video online purportedly showing the mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian hostages.

Islamisc State
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo

A spokesman for Egyptian Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio on Monday.

"[Egyptian] armed forces on Monday carried out focused air strikes in Libya against Daesh camps, places of gathering and training, and weapons depots," the military said in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for "IS."

According to the statement, the strikes were "to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers."

"Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them," the statement added.

Monday's announcement also marked the first time Cairo has publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighboring Libya, which has been beset by militia violence for months.

Prior to Monday's airstrikes, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a televised address on Sunday that "Egypt reserves the right to respond in a suitable way and time to punish these murderers."

The video, which appeared on Sunday on the Twitter feed of a website which supports IS, shows several handcuffed hostages being beheaded by black-suited militants on a seashore.

A spokesman for the Coptic Church was quoted by Egypt's state news agency MENA as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians, believed to have been held in Libya by IS for more than a month, were dead.

The Egyptian president has also declared seven days of mourning.

ksb/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)