AFRICA/LIBYA - Libyan authorities confirm: the bodies of the 21 Coptic martyrs have been found

Saturday, 7 October 2017 martyrs   middle east   oriental churches   jihadists  


Sirte (Agenzia Fides) - On Friday, October 6, the Libyan General Prosecutor officially confirmed the finding of the bodies of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded in 2015 by jihadists linked to the Islamic State (Daesh) in a coastal area in the city of Sirte. According to communication channels of the Egyptian public prosecutor's office, the bodies were found in a coastal area on the outskirts of the city, with their hands tied behind their backs and dressed in the same orange-colored suits they wore in the macabre video filmed by the executioners during their beheading. Even the heads were also found next to the bodies, and procedures are underway to identify the single victims of the massacre through DNA analysis.
At the end of September (see Fides 29/9/2017), Libyan General Prosecutor al Sadiq al Sour had announced the discovery of the site where the remains of the Christian Copts beheaded by jihadists of the Islamic State (Daesh) had been buried. The identification of the burial place of the bodies had been linked by the same Attorney to the arrest of a man accused of having taken part in that massacre, claimed by jihadists with the spread of a macabre video that showed the phases of the collective decapitation. Attorney al-Sadiq al-Sour had also given news of the identification of the operator who had filmed the scenes of the massacre that were seen in the video. The news of the possible finding of the 21 Coptic bodies immediately spread in Egypt, generating great excitement especially in the Coptic communities of the region of Minya, where most victims of the massacre came from. But in the last few days (see Fides 6/10/2017), the family members of the 21 Copts beheaded in Libya had addressed an urgent request to confirm the finding of the mortal remains. Family members confirmed that the news of the possible finding of the bodies had aroused hope and they prayed that the mortal remains of the martyrs would soon "return to Egypt and their Church". But they also complained that the Libyan and Egyptian authorities had not provided any evidence of the announced discovery. Contradictory suppositions had begun to circulate in the media of the two Countries, including news that in fact denied the announcement given by the Libyan Prosecutor during a press conference. In February 2015 the massacre of the 21 Egyptian Copts was claimed by jihadists with the release of a macabre video. Just a week after their brutal act, Orthodox Catholic Patriarch Tawadros II decided to register the 21 martyrs in the Synaxarium, the book of martyrs of the Coptic Church, establishing that their memory was to be celebrated on February 15 (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 7/10/2017)