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Monday, February 16, 2015, 17:24

Scores killed as Egypt bombs IS

By Agencies

 Scores killed as Egypt bombs IS
In this Feb 13, 2015 photo, Coptic Christian men whose relatives were abducted by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya more than a month ago, protest at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo / Hassan Ammar)

CAIRO - Egyptian warplanes struck Islamic State targets in Libya on Monday, just hours after the extremist group released a grisly video showing the beheading of several Egyptian Coptic Christians it had held hostage for weeks.

State-run Nile TV said At least 40 suspected Islamic State (IS) militants were killed early Monday.

"There are casualties among the individuals, ammunition and the communication centres belonging to them," Libyan air force commander Saqer al-Joroushi said on Egyptian state television. "The number of deaths are not less than 40 or 50 for sure," he said.

An armed forces spokesman announced the strikes on state radio, marking the first time Cairo has publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighboring Libya, where extremist groups seen as a threat to both countries have exploited the chaos following the 2011 uprising.

The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the "intense strikes'' were "to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.''

Libya's air force meanwhile announced it had launched strikes in the eastern city of Darna, an extremist stronghold that was taken over by an Islamic State affiliate last year. The announcement, on the Facebook page of the air force chief of staff, did not provide further details.

The video purporting to show the mass beheading of the Coptic Christian hostages was released late Sunday by militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group.

The militants had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers rounded up from the city of Sirte in December and January. It was not clear from the video whether all 21 hostages were killed.

The Egyptian government declared a seven-day mourning period after the release of the video and President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed the nation late Sunday night.

"These cowardly actions will not undermine our determination'' said el-Sissi, who also banned all travel to Libya by Egyptian citizens.

The UN Security Council condemned the apparent murder as did the USA and the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates.

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