Egypt is closely following developments in the kidnapping of 21 Coptic Egyptians in Libya, according to a presidential statement, following the release of a report by the Islamic State on Thursday that seemed to show photographs of the kidnapped Egyptians in orange jumpsuits.
A special committee tasked with securing the return of the kidnapped nationals is "following the matter minute-by-minute, making extensive and ongoing contacts with official and non-official concerned Libyan parties in order to clarify the situation and learn the truth," read a statement by the office of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday.
The men were kidnapped in December and January by militants affiliated with the Islamic State. Relatives of those abducted have repeatedly called for stronger action by the Egyptian authorities.
The presidential remarks came after the Islamic State group published a report purportedly showing photos of 21 Coptic Egyptians. The report claimed the men had been captured to avenge the kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church. Calling the abducted men "Coptic crusaders" the report says that Egyptian Christian women who converted to Islam were "tortured and murdered" by the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The undated photos showed captive workers handcuffed, and wearing orange-coloured jumpsuits often donned by Islamic State prisoners before they are executed by the jihadists.