Three Christians kidnapped by Islamic State in Libya have been identified by the militant group.
Bekhit Nageh Efrak Ebeid, Sekyere Kofi Frimpong and Aedola Ibrahim were abducted by ISIS in Noufliyah, southeast of Sirte – a stronghold for the jihadists. They are now being held in an unknown location.
The men are from Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana, ISIS said in a statement on social media, where they posted photos of the men's passports. Libyan military spokesman, Mohamed El Hejazi, confirmed the abduction.
ISIS is tightening its grip on Libya, where it reportedly kidnapped 86 Eritrean Christians in June.
Earlier this year, Egypt began conducting airstrikes in Libya following the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in the country by ISIS militants. Speaking to Radio France Internationale in April, Eritrean Catholic Priest Father Mussie Zerai said that 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, 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 because they are Christian. This is the first time."
Jihadists have now captured several areas, mostly in the east of Libya. Its proximity to Europe is believed to be one of its major attractions. According to Reuters, ISIS has expanded its presence by exploiting chaos and a security vacuum, as it did in Iraq and Syria.
This weekend, church leaders called on the UK government to open Britain's doors to Christians fleeing persecution by Islamic State in the Middle East.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, accused David Cameron of turning his back on fellow Christians, and urged the UK to welcome Christian refugees and give them priority as asylum seekers.