Gunmen opened fire and killed 28 Coptic Christians and wounded 25 others on 26 May 2017, while they were traveling to Ascension Day services at the Monastery of St. Samuel in Minya, southern Egypt. (Photo: Egypt State Information Service)
Gunmen opened fire and killed 28 Coptic Christians and wounded 25 others on 26 May 2017, while they were traveling to Ascension Day services at the Monastery of St. Samuel in Minya, southern Egypt. (Photo: Egypt State Information Service)

One of the “most wanted” Islamic extremists who is suspected of participating in the gun attack on a bus convoy of Coptic Christian pilgrims in May 2017 has been captured by Libyan security forces, the BBC reports. The attack killed 28 people, including two children. Twenty-five others were injured.

Hisham Ashmawi is the leader of the militant group al-Mourabitoun, an affiliate of al-Qaeda. He is believed to be behind a large number of deadly attacks in Egypt and an attempted assassination of a top Egyptian official. At the time of his capture he had a suicide vest strapped on but “was unable to detonate it”, the Libyan National Army said.

Ashmawi, a former Egyptian army officer, joined an Islamist group in 2013 and was involved in developing its military skills, teaching young recruits how to assemble bombs and carry out suicide bombing missions, according to EgyptToday news site.

Libya said Ashwary would be extradited to Egyptian authorities after investigations.

Meanwhile, Libya also has captured a suspected perpetrator of the beheading of 20 Egyptian Copts and one Ghanaian Christian in Libya in 2015, Almashhadalaraby news site reports.

Abdulrahman Ali Aglio had photographed the victims just before their assassination. The image circulated widely in the media.

The 21 victims, all daily labourers in Libya, were captured in two separate abductions by armed militants on 29 December 2014 and 3 January 2015. The hostage-takers checked the religion written on their government ID cards, then took the Christians hostage and let the Muslims go free.

The 21 men were found close to where they were executed on a beach in the coastal city of Sirte. (still from video)
The 21 men were found close to where they were executed on a beach in the coastal city of Sirte. (still from video)

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. In May this year, the Egyptian Coptic families of the 20 men received their loved ones’ remains, which were buried in the new Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland built in their remembrance in the village of Al-Our. The body of the Ghanaian Christian was handed to the Ghanaian Embassy in Libya.

Abdulrahman Ali Aglio has been handed over to Egypt.