Fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have released a video purporting to show the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya.
The Egyptian government and the Coptic Church confirmed the authenticity of the footage, released on Sunday.
It showed the Egyptian workers, all wearing orange jump suits, being beheaded near a waterfront said to be located in the Libyan province of Tripoli.
The men were seized in two attacks in December and January from the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya.
Al-Azhar stresses that such barbaric action has nothing to do with any religion or human values.
Al-Azhar , centre of Islamic learning
In the wake of the video release, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for an urgent meeting of Egypt’s top national security team and declared seven days of mourning.
“Egypt reserves the right to respond in a suitable way and time to punish these murderers,” Sisi said in a televised speech.
Later, state television reported that Egypt’s military had bombed ISIL targets in Libya at dawn on Monday.
The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement saying it was “confident” the killers would be brought to justice.
Al-Azhar, the prestigious Cairo-based seat of Islamic learning, denounced the “barbaric” killings.
“Al-Azhar stresses that such barbaric action has nothing to do with any religion or human values,” it said in a statement.