Egypt's Foreign Ministry on Monday hailed the efforts made by Libyan authorities to return the bodies of 20 Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians beheaded by the Islamic State group in 2015 and to hold perpetrators accountable.
A video released by the Islamic State group in February 2015 showed the beheading of the Egyptian Christians, who were handcuffed and wearing orange jumpsuits.
The victims' remains were repatriated to Cairo in caskets from the western Libyan city of Misrata by private plane on Monday.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that Egypt appreciates "the strenuous efforts" made by all Libyan authorities and state bodies, including the Libyan attorney general, forensic medicine officials, local authorities and security service to return the bodies back to Cairo.
The ministry also praised the "solidarity and keenness [shown] by all Libyan authorities that the perpetrators be punished."
The bodies were recovered in October 2017 after a militant involved in the beheadings was arrested by Libyan authorities and provided information about their whereabouts, a senior Libyan prosecutor said at the time.
Misrata's department of criminal investigation described the case in a statement on Monday as a "long, painful journey of hard work of troubleshooting, investigation and collection of information."
A total of 21 people were beheaded in the incident, including a Ghanaian whose body was not brought to Egypt along with the others.
Pope Tawadros II of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, along with a number of bishops, received the remains at Cairo International Airport on Monday and held prayers for the victims on the tarmac.
The bodies were then transported for burial in Egypt’s Minya governorate.