The Egyptian airforce carried out airstrikes early Monday against the Islamic State group in neighboring Libya, the military said, in retaliation for the militants beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped in Libya.
The airstrikes targeting militant training camps and weapons storage sites came hours after the Islamic State group released a video purporting to show the killings.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had pledged in a televised speech to respond to the beheadings, calling them an “abhorrent act of terrorism.”
“Egypt reserves the right of retaliation, and with the methods and timing it sees fit for retribution from those murderers and criminals who are without the slightest humanity,” he said.
The video shows several men in orange jumpsuits being led along a beach, each accompanied by a masked militant. The men are made to kneel and one militant addresses the camera in English before the men are simultaneously beheaded.
The brutal murders were portrayed as retaliation against what a masked fighter described as “the hostile Egyptian church.” Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population and suffer widespread discrimination and persecution.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest condemned what he called “the despicable and cowardly murder” in a statement late Sunday, and said the Islamic State’s “barbarity knows no bounds.”