Six Egyptian Christians were abducted by a criminal gang in Libya in the week of 6 February.
The six men, all from the village of Alharja South in Suhag, had travelled to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for work. However, they were stopped at an illegal checkpoint as they were travelling from the airport to their place of employment, and were transported to an unknown location. Their Libyan driver was released immediately.
Egyptian journalist Nader Shukry, who has been following the incident, reported that the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of 15,000 Libyan Dinars (approximately GBP £2,600) per captive.
According to Mr Shukry’s reports, Hani Sadrak, whose brother and three cousins are among the victims, said the families could not afford these ransoms without selling their homes, and called upon the Egyptian president and government to intervene. Mr Sadrak also reported that he had spoken to his cousin Abdu Juda Sadrak over the phone, who told him they are being held in a very small room with many other captives of different nationalities. He also described their circumstances as a ‘living hell’, adding that they are beaten daily and received very little food.
The abduction took place days before the anniversary of the murders of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State (IS) fighters in Libya on 15 February 2015. The killings prompted Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to launch air strikes against IS in Libya, and declare the victims ‘national martyrs.’ In addition, the Coptic Orthodox Church designated 15 February as Contemporary Martyrs Day, and has commemorated it ever since.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW condemns this latest brutality committed against Egyptian Christians in Libya. The fact that these men were abducted so soon upon arrival and are being held with many other foreign nationals highlights the prevalence of kidnapping for ransom in that country. We urge the Libyan and Egyptian authorities to intervene swiftly to secure the release of these six men and all those held with them. Their kidnappers must be held to account, and we call upon the international community to press those who are in power in Libya to crack down on extremist and criminal groups and address the appalling discriminatory targeting and extortion of religious minorities and refugees.’