By Aya Nader
The bodies of the seven Egyptians killed in Libya arrived at Cairo airport at midday on Wednesday, with a military helicopter assigned to transfer them to their hometown in Sohag Governorate, according to a statement from military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali.
On Sunday night, a group of masked militants abducted eight Egyptians, taking them to Gorutha suburb west of Benghazi. One was able to escape while seven were shot dead.
The Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs will receive the bodies at the Cairo airport, said a second statement.
Both the Egyptian and Libyan sides expressed their intention to cooperate and apprehend the killers.
Libya’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Tuesday that offered condolences and condemned the incident, asserting that the government is following up with investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice, while stressing the importance of maintaining the deep historical relations between both countries.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan said in a press conference on Tuesday that Libya condemns this “terrorist act”.
The newly-appointed Egyptian cabinet issued a statement on Wednesday offering condolences to the families of the victims and Pope Tawadros, as head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church.
Head of the Anglican Communion Reverend Safwat Bayaadi said that reactions to this “terrible” event were insufficient, although “all indicators show that they were killed for their religious identity in an extremist area”. He said in a statement on Tuesday that the incident “has passed as though it never happened, and all the embassy is doing is following up with the investigations”.
Internationally, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Austria condemned the incident and such “criminal attacks that take innocent lives as a result of their religious or ethnic identity”. The church emphasised in its statement the need for greater cooperation between the two countries to protect “simple people, especially labourers”, and that “both governments should exert efforts to tackle terrorists and criminal extremist formations”.
Egypt’s ambassador to Libya Mohammad AbouBakr denied allegations of targeting Christians in Libya, according to state-run Al-Ahram.