The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) kidnapped 88 Eritrean Christians when it ambushed a human smugglers’ caravan south of Libya’s capital Tripoli last week.
An unnamed U.S. official confirmed the abduction to Fox News after it was reported by an independent Libyan newspaper.
“The defense official confirmed initial reports of the mass kidnapping to Fox News after seeing a recent intelligence report,” states the article. “The independent Libya Herald newspaper reported that the convoy was ambushed by militants south of Tripoli before dawn this past Wednesday morning.”
The co-founder of the Stockholm-based International Commission on Eritrean Refugees, Meron Estafanos, told the Libyan newspaper that the migrant convoy ambushed by ISIS included “about 12 Eritrean Muslims and some Egyptians. They put them in another truck and they put 12 Eritrean women Christians in a smaller pick-up.”
“Estafanos said that the militants had initially stopped the truck and demanded that the Muslims on board make themselves known,” notes Fox News. “Everyone who responded was asked about the Koran and their religious observance in an attempt to catch Christians pretending to be Muslims.”
Estafanos reportedly added that three men managed to escape by diving off the back of their kidnappers’ truck, adding that they were safe, but still trying to leave Libya.
In February, ISIS released a propaganda video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. Another video surfaced two-months later showing the jihadists executing an undetermined number of Ethiopian Christians.
“Ever since the kidnapping by ISIS in Libya last February,” Estafanos said, “many are taking different routes. Some go from Khartoum [Sudan] to Turkey, then Greece. Others are now leaving via Khartoum to Cairo, then Alexandria and from there by boat to Italy. I think we will see an increase towards Turkey and Cairo instead of Libya.”
Libya has become a transit point for thousands of migrants from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa who attempt to reach southern Europe through the dangerous Mediterranean Sea.
“However, Libya’s ongoing instability has led to an increased presence by ISIS and other terror groups, increasing the risk for Christians and other non-Muslims attempting the crossing,” reports Fox News.