ISIS has taken 88 Eritrean Christians from a people-smuggler's convoy that they intercepted in Libya last week. A U.S. defense official has confirmed the report based on recent intelligence information.
The Christians, which included 12 women and 76 men, are now being held captive together with 12 Eritrean Muslims and a few Egyptians.
According to reports, the convoy was traveling through south Tripoli when it was stopped by ISIS soldiers before dawn Wednesday. ISIS soldiers asked who the Muslims in the group were. Those who claimed to be Muslims were asked questions about the Koran and some religious Muslim practices to check if they were Christians pretending to be Muslims.
After the interrogation, ISIS soldiers separated 88 people identified as Christians from the group. Twelve of these were women, who were taken away in a pick-up. The others were told to board a different truck. After ordering the convoy to go and be on their way, the ISIS soldiers drove away with their new prisoners.
Some Christian men attempted to escape by jumping out of the truck. Three of them were successful, but they are still trying to find a way out of Libya. There are no reports yet about what happened to the others, according to Fox News.
"They were coming from Eritrea and they were escaping from a very difficult situation," Open Doors USA President David Curry said about the migrants.
Many migrants from Africa and the Middle East go through Libya in the hope of reaching Southern Europe. However, because of the country's present instability, ISIS has gained a stronger presence in Libya. This has increased the risk for migrant Christians trying to get across to Europe.
International Commission on Eritrean Refugees co-founder Meron Estafanos said that since ISIS kidnapped 21 Egyptians in February, many people-smuggling caravans have taken different routes.
"Some go from Khartoum to Turkey, then Greece. Others are now leaving via Khartoum to Cairo, then Alexandria and from there by boat to Italy. I think we will see an increase towards Turkey and Cairo instead of Libya," she said, according to Fox News.
Last February, ISIS kidnapped 21 Egyptian Christians. They were later beheaded in a Mediterranean beach. The execution was recorded in a video and released by ISIS on the Internet.
The terror group has not only seized Christian migrant captives in Libya. On Tuesday, ISIS said that it has taken control of a power plant near Sirte, which provides electricity to the central and western parts of Libya. The attack left the soldiers loyal to Libya's self-declared government fleeing Tripoli, according to Reuters.