21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded by Islamic State
Coptic Christians carry coffins at a symbolic funeral for the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded by Islamic State earlier this week, in Jerusalem's Old City February 18, 2015.Reuters

In the wake of the Islamic State's brutal beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, around 15,000 Egyptians have fled from war-torn Libya.

They escaped through Sallum in northwest Egypt after Cairo urged its countrymen working in Libya to return home.

Last week, the Egyptian and Libyan warplanes had hit the Isis-occupied areas in Libya following the release of the video on 15 February that showed the jihadists beheading 21 Christians, 20 of whom were Egyptian. Since then, Cairo has been urging the thousands of Egyptians working in Libya to leave the region. It has even provided chartered planes to fly them home from Tunisia, Libya's Western neighbour, reports Al Arabiya.

It is understood that at least 14,585 Egyptians paid heed to the call and fled war-torn Libya via a single border crossing at Sallum.

Meanwhile, a Tunisian transport ministry spokeswoman revealed that since Friday, at least 1,000 Egyptians who had fled Libya have been airlifted on planes chartered by Cairo. Another group of Egyptians were waiting on the Libyan side of the Libya-Tunisia border, hoping to cross it, according to a Tunisian customs official.

Egypt, which began bombarding Islamic State targets with air strikes since last Monday, has hit 13 targets according to Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He said the strikes were being carried out carefully so as to avoid any civilian casualty. "Noone should think we attacked civilians," Sisi said.

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