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Egyptians, possibly Coptic Christians, shot to death near Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Egypt, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Seven Egyptians were found shot to death near Benghazi, Libya, a security services spokesman for the city said.

Spokesman Ibrahim al-Sharaa was unable to confirm reports that the Egyptians killed Monday were Christians, who often are targeted on accusations of proselytizing in the Muslim country, Middle East Online reported.

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Sharaa told the Libya Herald several of the men's hands were bound and all had been killed by single shots to the head.

No Egyptian diplomatic staff members were available to comment on Monday's slayings, the Libya Herald said. Egypt withdrew diplomatic staff from Libya last month after five members of the mission's staff were abducted.

State news agency Lana said the bodies were identified by Egyptian residents of Benghazi.

The Egyptian Coptic Christian community has been under attack in recent years in Libya, the Herald said. Two people were killed In 2012 in an explosion near the Coptic Orthodox Church in Misurata.

The main Coptic church in Benghazi was closed after it was torched in March 2013 following an assault on the church's priest and his assistant.

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