The bodies of the 20 Egyptian Copts and one Ghanaian Christian, beheaded by the Islamic State group on the Libyan coast in February 2015, are due to be returned to their families within the next two weeks, a local source told World Watch Monitor.
The families of the victims have designated Fr. Maqar Issa, a priest at Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in Al-Our village, and the lawyer of the Samalout Diocese, Attallah Youssef Hanna, to complete the necessary paperwork on their behalf at the National Security Agency in Cairo on Sunday, 11 March.
Upon successful completion of the documents, the families will be notified about the date of the return of the bodies – expected to be within ten days from the meeting.
Last month, on 15 February – the third anniversary of the beheading of the 21 men – a new church was inaugurated in Al-Our village named the Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland. As part of the ceremony, the bodies of all 21 were expected to be reburied in one big coffin inside the new church, but it was cancelled at the time.
The men, all day labourers in Libya, were captured in two separate abductions by armed militants on 29 December 2014 and 3 January 2015.
The militants then released a graphic video depicting the mass beheading of their captives, titled: “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross”. Video subtitles described the Christians as “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church”.
In October 2017, Libya officially confirmed it had found the bodies of the beheaded Christians. The 21 men were found close to where they were executed on a beach in the coastal city of Sirte. The location of the bodies was revealed by the captured IS fighter who videotaped the executions.