Seven Egyptian Christians were killed on Monday, February 24, near the Libyan city of Benghazi where they were working. Libyan authorities found their bodies Monday afternoon, on a beach in the Jarhoutha suburb of Benghazi.
The seven young men were killed by gunshots in what seemed to be a systematic execution of these Coptic-Christians. The murdered believers ranged in age from 17 to 25.
Sources inside the country say that a group of Egyptian Christian men were forced to leave the apartment building they were living in by those looking for Christians. Some managed to escape, but the seven were taken to the beach and executed there.
The killings caused great fear among the non-native Christian population still working and living in eastern Libya. Many are now seeking a safe way to leave the country.
According to the Libya Herald, several of the men had their hands bound and each was killed by a single gunshot to the head. A security spokesman told the newspaper that the names of some of the murdered men indicated that they were Members of an ethnic religious group from North Africa but primarily Egypt, where they are the largest Christian denomination in the country. Christians, and an Egyptian passport was found on one of the bodies. No group has claimed responsibility for the executions.
Connor, an Open Doors spokesman, was stunned by the incident. “Since the end of the regime of dictator Gaddafi of Libya, we’ve seen that the government doesn’t really control the nation. Christians, both Libyans and non-Libyans, suffer abuse from Islamists. Christians have been arrested, tortured, killed, have been accused of “proselytizing,” and several churches in Libya were bombed or set on fire, since the revolution.”
The Egyptian Coptic community in Libya has faced repeated attacks from militants over the past few years. In December 2012, an explosion near the Members of an ethnic religious group from North Africa but primarily Egypt, where they are the largest Christian denomination in the country. Orthodox Church in Misrata killed two and left three more injured.
Benghazi’s main Coptic Church was set on fire in March 2013, two weeks after an assault on the church’s priest and his assistant. The church is now closed. The incidents were seen as retribution for an attack on the Libyan Embassy in Cairo following the arrest of 50-100 Copts in Libya on allegations of proselytizing.
Father, as we consider these seven Egyptian Christians who were marched to their death on that Libyan shore. We thank You for their courage and faithfulness, and we pray that You would use their courageous peace at the point of death to bring true conviction and repentance to those who executed them. We pray for Your peace to rest upon the family and friends of those who were slain, and we pray that You would remove fear from the hearts of other believers there. As the church leaders seek to lead their congregations in the aftermath of these slayings, grant wisdom and discernment, as well as courage and faith. In the name of Jesus, in whose arms these seven believers now rest. Amen.