State Department: US has no confirmation on Egyptian abductees in Libya

The United States Department of State expressed sympathy for the kidnapped Egyptians in Libya and their families, but said it had no further information about the incident, in remarks on Friday.

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a press briefing, "we’ve seen photos showing Egyptians kidnapped by terrorists in Libya," adding, "I don’t have confirmation; we have just seen the photos."

On Thursday, pictures purported to show the Egyptian abductees went viral on social media after they were published by a magazine affiliated with Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The abductees featured in the pictures were clad in orange, a colour usually signaling the captives' death sentence by the group. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said reports of the abductees' deaths have yet to be verified, as of Saturday afternoon, state-run news agency MENA said.

Twenty Coptic Egyptians were abducted in the Libyan city of Sirte on two separate occasions in December and January, only one week apart. Psaki said "we strongly condemn the kidnappings."

Psaki said the incident is "more about Libya than it is about Egypt", adding that it serves as a reminder of how "volatile the situation is there on the ground."

Fighting in Libya has intensified since the overthrow of late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, reaching unprecedented levels over the past year. Several Egyptians have been caught up in the militant fighting gripping the neighbouring country.

Egypt's Foreign Sameh Shoukry has spoken over the phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Psaki said Kerry reiterated America's condemnation and "commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt."

Shoukry said in a statement last night that he discussed the "the fate of the kidnapped Egyptians and the efforts carried out to deal with the security and political conditions in Libya" with Kerry as well as with his Russian, British and French counterparts.

Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb ordered late Friday the ministry of social solidarity to allocate a monthly pension worth 1200 Egyptian pounds to the families the abducted.

Earlier that day, families of the abductees demonstrated outside the press syndicate in downtown Cairo demanding their release. They called upon President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to take swift measures to verify news of their relatives' death, and repatriate their bodies if their death is confirmed.

This content is from :Aswat Masriya


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