By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TRIPOLI, LIBYA — June 9, 2015) — As Islamic State tightens its grip on Libya, 86 Eritrean Christians have reportedly been kidnaped in the country.
A story by Carey Lodge for Christian Today reported that human rights activist Meron Estefanos said the Christians were migrants, the majority of them from city of Adi Keih, and trying to make their way to Europe.
Of the 86, a number were children and at least 12 were women. They were taken in a dawn raid on June 3 while traveling in a truck to the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Christian Today said Estefanos, who co-founded the International Commission on Eritrean Refugees, told IBTimes UK eyewitnesses that those traveling in the vehicle were divided by their religion, and six Muslims were released by the jihadists.
“IS militants asked everyone who is Muslim or not and everybody started saying they are Muslims,” she said, adding, “but you have to know the Koran, and they didn’t.”
Three Christians allegedly managed to escape, though it is not clear if their whereabouts are known.
Estafanos told The Times, “We are trying to get them to a safe place, but there is no safe place in Libya.”
In an interview with the Libya Herald, Christian Today said Estafanos added that many migrants are now trying to avoid Libya en route to Europe because of Islamic State’s growing influence.
She also said that a video released by the jihadist group in April purporting to show the beheading of 28 Ethiopian Christians had been edited. A number of Eritrean Christians were killed at the same time, she said.
It is now feared that Islamic State’s latest abductees are facing the same fate.
Speaking to Radio France Internationale in April, Eritrean Catholic Priest Father Mussie Zerai said Ethiopians and Eritreans were a key target for militants in Libya because the majority of them are Christians.
“Christian people, especially from Eritrea and Ethiopia, are discriminated against in Libya because of the religion issue,” he explained.
Speaking of the beheadings, Christian Today said Zerai added, “It’s not the first time; it’s not new – discrimination or bad treatment, all these things. But it’s the first time they are targeted in this way. They are killed by ISIS, also known as IS, because they are Christian. This is the first time.”
Earlier this year, Egypt began conducting air strikes in Libya following the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in the country by Islamic State militants. However, the group has now captured several areas, mostly in the east of Libya. Its proximity to Europe is believed to be one of its major attractions to jihadists.
Photo captions: 1) Part of a video that shows Ethiopian men – wearing Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits – being held at the neck and forced to kneel by fighters in combats with ski masks covering their faces (Photo: AFP/Getty Images). 2) The footage also shows around 12 men being shot in a desert area, believed to be in the south of the country, by militants wearing green ski masks and combats. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images). 3) Jeremy Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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