Middle East

Libya killings: Who were the 21 Copts?

The father of a Coptic Christian killed in Libya weeps over his loss Image copyright Reuters

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by jihadists has prompted an outpouring of grief and horror.

Most hailed from poor villages and went to Libya to work as labourers to send money to families back at home. But they died a gruesome death at the hands of militants who have sworn allegiance to the notorious Islamic State group.

Thirteen of the 21 men are from the same Upper Egyptian village of Al-Our, in Minya, and the remaining victims are from Al-Jibali and other villages, Egypt's al-Yawm al-Sabi paper reports.

The oldest victim was a 40-year-old driver, Majid Suayman Shihata, who had hoped to earn enough money to pay for the education of his three children as well as provide for his elderly mother and four siblings.

The family of Abanub Ayyad Atiyyah, a 22-year-old commerce graduate, say he had hoped to help his family as well as save for his own wedding.

"We intended to search for a wife for him upon his return to Egypt," his father is quoted as saying. "I also relied on him to help with the expenses of the household and the costs of his brother's education," he added.

Another victim was 24-year-old Luqa Najati, a newly-married man from the village of Jabali, who had missed the birth of his daughter while in Libya.

"My son travelled to Libya a year-and-a-half ago, immediately after his marriage - he did not even realise that his wife was pregnant when he left in search of a job," his father said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The man in the photo is one of the murdered Christians

"We hadn't seen him since and now there is this news. His little daughter was born but he never saw her, we only sent her photos to him."

The victims also include two brothers - Bishoy and Samuel Stephanos - who had hoped to save for their weddings and Samuel Wilson, married with three children and living with his extended family, who had hoped to earn enough to be able to buy their own house.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Much of the village of Al-Our is trying to cope with the grief and loss

Government criticised

Shinuda Anis, who has seen footage of her brother featuring in the video, spoke of her loss to local Vetogate website with a mixture of defiance and resignation.

"Our blood is for the sake of the nation," she said. But she also went on to criticise the Egyptian government for failing to act sooner, pointing out that the group was kidnapped nearly two months ago.

Among other victims was 26-old Samih Salah Shawqi, who left behind a daughter he had not seen since she was born; Milad Makin Zaki who left his a three-year son; and Mina Fayiz Aziz, who left behind elderly parents.

All were hoping to return home after their time in Libya and build better lives for their families.

The victims

•Milad Makin Zaki

•Abanub Ayyad Atiyah

•Majid Sulayman Shihatah

•Yusuf Shukri Yunan

•Carlos Bushra Fawzi

•Bishoy Astafnus Kamil

•(brother) Suma'ili Astafnus Kamil

•Malak Ibrahim Sanyut

•Tawadaros Yusuf Tawadaros

•Jirjis Milad Sanyut

•Mina Sayyid Aziz

•Hani Abd-al-Masih Salib

•Bishoy Adil Khalaf

•Samuel Alham Wilson

•Izzat Bushra Nasif

•Luqa Najati Wanis

•Isam Bidar Samir

•Malak Farraj Abram

•Samih Salah Faruq

•Jabir Munir Adli

Source: Egypt's Al-Fajr newspaper

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