CAIRO (Reuters) - Militant training camps in Libya are a direct threat to Egypt’s national security, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Monday, after Egyptian air strikes targeted the camps in eastern Libya in recent days.
Egypt’s air force began the strikes just hours after masked men boarded vehicles driving dozens of Coptic Christians to pray at a monastery in the southern Egyptian province of Minya on Friday. They opened fire at close range, killing 29 and wounding 24 in an attack claimed by Islamic State.
Speaking at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Shoukry said the attack on the Christians proved that Libyan militants were capable of targeting Egypt.
“The tragic work in Minya is evidence of the extent to which these groups, which are determined to commit these horrific crimes, can target the innocent in order to destabilise Egypt,” Shoukry said.
“(Egypt) targeted the bases of these organisations in order to get rid of them and to limit their ability to threaten Egypt’s national security. This is in full coordination with the Libyan National Army,” he said.
Shoukry said Egypt looked forward to “Russia utilising all of its available capabilities to work together to get rid of terrorism.”
Commenting on whether Russia would resume direct flights to Egypt following an Islamic State bombing of a Russian airliner in 2015, Lavrov said Moscow had not put forward any new conditions but that all airport security demands must first be met.
Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Giles Elgood