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Libyan authorities find mass grave containing bodies of 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS

(Reuters/Social Media Website via Reuters TV)Islamic State militants lead what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Wilayat Barqa, in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015.

Libyan authorities have found a mass grave that contains the bodies of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in 2015.

The video of the gruesome beheadings that took place on a Libyan beach was posted on the internet in February 2015, prompting the Egyptian government to launch air strikes against jihadist targets in the neighboring Arab state.

The mass grave, which is located near the one-time Islamic State bastion of Sirte, 280 miles east of Tripoli, was found on Friday following confessions from ISIS prisoners.

Libya's interior ministry noted that the bodies of 20 Egyptians and a man of unknown African nationality were unearthed from the mass grave.

"The heads are separated from the bodies clad in orange jumpsuits, hands bound behind the back with plastic wire," said the ministry's unit for fighting organized crime in the city of Misurata, as reported by Agence France Presse.

The unit, which answers to the interior ministry of Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli, said that the remains had been transferred to Misurata for forensic examination, but did not give a possible date for the possible repatriation of the remains for burial.

Egypt's foreign ministry stated on Saturday that it had received information about the discovery of the mass grave.

"The Egyptian embassy has been communicating since Friday with the Libyans with co-ordination with the Egyptian ministry of defence to secure their return to Egypt," a spokesman said.

The 21 Coptic Christians were kidnapped by ISIS In separate incidents in Libya between December 2014 and January 2015. The video released by the terror group showed the Christian men in orange jumpsuits kneeling on the sand as the militants stood behind them, ready to carry out the executions at a beach near Tripoli.

Last month, seven people were sentenced to death by an Egyptian court for over their links to ISIS and the beheadings of the 21 Christians.

The seven suspects were accused of being members of an ISIS cell in Marsa Matruh, northwest Egypt, and of planning attacks after having received military training at jihadist camps in Libya and Syria. The rulings against 13 other suspects are expected to be handed down on Nov. 25.

The death sentences will be reviewed by Egypt's mufti, who is the official interpreter of Islamic law, although his verdict is not considered legally binding.

Earlier this year, the relatives of the victims took pride in the courage displayed by their loved ones by refusing to renounce their faith despite the imminent threat of death.

"I'm very happy that my brother is in Heaven with Jesus now. I loved my brother when he was alive on the Earth, but now I love him more than before. He was martyred in the name of Jesus Christ," one family member said.

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