Egypt has launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya after the extremist group released a grisly video showing the beheading of several Coptic Christians it had held hostage for weeks.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time Cairo has publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighboring Libya, which has been beset by militia violence for months.

The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were "to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers."

"Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them," it said.