May 30, 2017 - 12:54 AMT
Egypt to press ahead with air strikes after Christians attacked

Egypt made clear on Monday, May 29 that it planned to press ahead with air strikes against Islamist militants in neighbouring Libya who it says were responsible for killing Egyptian Christians in an ambush last week, Reuters said.

Libyan military commanders said Egyptian jets hit the Libyan city of Derna on Monday, continuing attacks that began hours after masked men boarded vehicles driving dozens of people to a monastery in the southern Egyptian province of Minya on Friday and killed 29.

A witness said on Monday one air attack hit the western entrance to Derna and two others hit Dahr al-Hamar in the city's south.

"The air strikes are joint ones between the Libyan National Army and Egyptian army," said Ahmad Messmari, a spokesman for the Libyan National Army, an eastern Libyan faction allied with Egypt.

An Egyptian military spokesman, Colonel Tamer al-Refaei, said anyone who plotted what he called terrorist violence against Egypt was not beyond the reach of the military.

"Anyone sponsoring terrorism will be punished no matter where they are," he told the state-owned Ahram newspaper. "We have not announced the cessation of military operations against terrorist training camps."

Libyan operational commander Brigadier Abdulsalam Al-Hasi told Reuters the strikes targeted Majlis Mujahideen Derna and Abu Salim brigade, two local Libyan groups allied with al Qaeda.

Refaei said the military was not targeting a specific militant group because it did not differentiate between various factions.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Egypt had targeted militant bases in Libya "to get rid of them and to limit their ability to threaten Egypt's national security".

Speaking at a news conference in Cairo with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Shoukry said Egypt looked forward to "Russia utilising all of its available capabilities to work together to get rid of terrorism".

Photo: AP