A 13-year old-Christian girl abducted by armed men in Libya has been found dead in a suspected religiously motivated attack, local media reports said on Friday.
The girl, an Egyptian Coptic Christian, was taken from her home on Tuesday during an attack in which her parents were killed. Her two young sisters were left behind. A source at the Ibn Sina hospital in the city of Sirte, about 460km south east of Tripoli, confirmed that her body had been found yesterday.
Local council chairman, Yussef Tebeiga, said on Tuesday that the attack could well have been motivated by religion as nothing was stolen from the girl's home, despite over £3,000 in Libyan dinars and jewellery being clearly visible. Sirte - the hometown of Muammar Qaddafi - is controlled by Islamic militia groups.
This week's attack follows the murder of seven Egyptian Christians in Libya in February. They were each shot in the head "execution style", and their bodies were found on a beach in the Benghazi suburb of Jarhoutha.
General Bishop in the Coptic Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos at the time described the killings as "very disturbing" and "a very targeted attack". Advocacy group Coptic Solidarity said: "The victims were killed simply because of their religious identity, which constitutes a crime against humanity."
However, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Bader Abdul Ati insisted that "Copts are not targeted in Libya".
He blamed the murders on a disagreement between a gang of immigrant smugglers and their victims.
Coptic Solidarity, however, warned that anti-Coptic violence is a substantial problem in Libya. Copts there have been victims of "systematic targeting" by Islamic Jihadi groups allied with Egyptian counterparts since the fall of the Gaddafi regime, the group said.
This week, Egyptian Christian churches have also been on high alert against possible attacks from Islamic extremist groups.
Open Doors said that police forces have raised their alert status to the highest possible level, particularly in area close to churches during the festive period. Authorities warned of possible terrorist attacks on places of worship during Christmas and New Year's Eve services, which attract large congregations.