Cairo: Twenty Egyptian Christians were buried on Tuesday in their hometown, more than three years after they were beheaded by Daesh terrorists in Libya.
Remains of the victims were buried in a mass grave inside a recently built cathedral in the province of Minya, around 240 kilometres south of Cairo, Egyptian media reported.
The burial followed a mass service in the church named the Cathedral of the Martyrs of Faith and Nation in the village of Al Ur, the birthplace of 14 of the victims.
Hundreds of their families and locals mourned them while singing hymns, witnesses said.
The victims’ photos were displayed at the burial site.
The remains were flown to Cairo in caskets Monday night from Libya after they were identified by DNA tests. Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II received them along with several Christian clerics at Cairo airport.
Bishop Maqarius of Minya expressed happiness over the repatriation of the victims’ remains.
“The Church is in joy due to the return of the martyrs’ remains to Egypt,” he said in media remarks. “The church is proud of them because of their display of firm faith.”
Last October, Libyan authorities said that bodies of 20 Egyptian workers and an African Christian, beheaded by Daesh in 2015, were found in the group’s former stronghold of Sirte.
The office of the Libyan chief prosecutor said at the time that a grave containing the remains of the 21 victims had been found after confessions from Daesh militants arrested in the Libyan Mediterranean Sea city.
The decapitated victims were found reportedly handcuffed in the grave.
In February 2015, Daesh released a video showing its militants executing the 21 in a coastal Libyan area, an atrocity that prompted the Egyptian army to mount air strikes against positions of suspected hardliners in neighbouring Libya, killing about 20 people.
Libya has long been a hub for Egyptian workers. In recent years, Egyptian authorities have repeatedly called on Egyptians to refrain from travelling to its troubled western neighbour.
Libya has descended into anarchy since the 2011 armed revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi.