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20 Egyptian Coptic Christians Abducted in Libya, Witnesses Say

Coptic Christians pray at St Mark Cathedral in Cairo, Dec. 26, 2014.

Western news reports say masked gunmen in Libya have kidnapped 20 Egyptian Coptic Christian workers in recent days, including 13 people abducted from a residential compound in the coastal city of Sirte.

The Associated Press quoted one witness as saying gunmen went room to room in a residence in the Islamist-controlled city early Saturday, asking for identification papers to separate Muslim workers from Christians.

The witness said that the gunmen fled with the Christians and that he escaped by not opening his door.

Separately, a Libyan army spokesman said armed militants shot and killed at least 14 government soldiers at a checkpoint near the main southern city of Sabha. Authorities said the attack occurred early Friday.

Libya was effectively left without governance in 2011, following the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Its internationally recognized government, led by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, fled to the eastern city of Tobruk last year as an Islamist militia seized control of the nation's capital, Tripoli.