By Libya Herald staff.
3 January 2015:
Thirteen, possibly 16, Egyptian Coptic Christians were allegedly seized in Sirte today. The abduction follows the . . .[restrict]disappearance on three others in the town two days ago, the murder of a Coptic doctor and his wife who lived near Sirte eleven days ago and the subsequent murder of their 13-year-old daughter whose body was found two days later.
Jihadists and sympathisers are suspected. Sirte is increasingly controlled by Ansar Al-Sharia although Libya Dawn has a significant presence in the town.
In the incident two days ago, three Egyptian Christians were reportedly in a privately hired car with by a Libyan driver heading from their work at a construction site to the place they were staying. According to the driver, they were stopped by gunmen wearing military uniforms at a checkpoint. The gunmen apparently said the Egyptians’ residence visas were not in order and they had to go with them to investigate the matter. The driver, who was allowed to leave, then informed colleagues of the three who then went looking for them. They were reportedly told by the authorities that no one had been arrested that day.
Today, it is reportedly that gunmen, again said to be in military uniform, went to a building in Sirte housing Egyptian workers and demanded identification papers. As many as 16 people were then arrested, all of them reportedly Copts. Two others, said to be Muslims, were let go.
Officials in Sirte, however, are reported saying they have had no complaints of any Egyptians in the town being abducted or harmed. A council member, Fawzi Abu Zeidan, was quoted by Buwabat Al-Wasat saying that the council had had no communication about the incidents and knew nothing about them.
A number of Copts have been murdered or abducted in Libya over the past year in what has been seen a campaign against Egyptian Christians across the country. It is not known, though, whether it is coordinated or who might be behind it.
In February last year, the bodies of seven Copts were found dead on a beach near Benghazi. They had been shot. Another murdered Copt was found on the same beach a month later. [/restrict]