Seven Egyptian Christians were found shot dead on a beach in eastern Libya Monday, security officials and local residents told Reuters.
“They were killed by headshots in execution style,” a police officer said. “We don’t know who killed them.”
The Egyptians were living in Benghazi and, according to a local Egyptian worker who asked not to be identified, were kidnapped and dragged away from their homes Sunday night.
Though no one has claimed responsibility for the brutal attack, Reuters reported that Islamist militants remain active in the Benghazi area, and assassinations, kidnappings and car bombs are not uncommon. In the wake of the “Arab Spring” movement that swept Moammar Gadhafi from power, the country has struggled to control the well-armed militias that joined in the fighting.
On Sept. 11, 2012, heavily armed militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost in the city, killing four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. More than a year later, the attack on the Egyptian Christians marks the second execution-style killing of 2014; a British man and a woman from New Zealand were shot in the same style on a beach west of Tripoli in January. The two were working for an oil and gas plant in the area and had decided to have a picnic on the beach.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians are living in Libya, many working as laborers. In January, according to the AFP, gunmen kidnapped five Egyptian diplomats in Tripoli and held them for several hours.