Mass grave with 21 Coptic Christians' beheaded bodies found in Libya

A mass grave with the bodies of 21 Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya has been found, according to the country's interior ministry.

A former ISIS captive revealed the location near the one-time Islamic State bastion of Sirte, 280 miles east of Tripoli.

A sign which reads in Arabic, "The city of Sirte, under the shadow of Sharia" is seen as smoke rises in the background while forces aligned with Libya's new unity government advance on the eastern and southern outskirts of Sirte.Reuters

'The heads are separated from the bodies clad in orange jumpsuits, hands bound behind the back with plastic wire,' the ministry's unit for fighting organised crime in the city of Misurata, according to Agence France Presse.

The Coptic Christians were captured in separate incidents throughout December 2014 and January 2015 before releasing a video of their execution on a beach on February 15, 2015.

The iconic image of the 21 men in orange jumpsuits on a beach caused shockwaves around the world but Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the UK Coptic Church, told Christian Today a year after the killings that forgiveness and strength had trumped the video's attempt to instil fear and hatred.

He said: 'The same tool used to try and magnify violence and division actually became a platform for everyone to see the strength of their faith.'

He added: 'From own community I haven't heard a single message of vengeance or anger used.

'An even stronger and more inconceivable message of forgiveness came from their families and communities,' said Angaelos in a statement to commemorate the anniversary.

'They rejected the temptation to become bitter, angry and vengeful, and inspired the world with their gracious and courageous sentiment. Speaking proudly of the resilience of their fathers, brothers, and sons, who had captured the attention of the whole world, they also uttered their forgiveness for those who had so brutally and needlessly taken their lives, and who sought to rob them of their dignity.'