Islamic State claims to have massacred 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya, in a video similar to previous publicized killings by the extremist militants.
The graphic footage posted online Sunday and viewed by VOA shows one group of men beheaded on a beach as they knelt in front of their executioners, and another shot in the back of the head at a different location.
The grisly deaths are documented at the end of a nearly 30-minute video that describes the Islamic State view on Christianity and its efforts to convert non-Muslims.
In February, the Islamic State released a similar video of IS members decapitating Egyptian Christians.
Arab League meeting planned
An Arab League official told the French news agency military chiefs from the region would meet in Cairo this week to discuss creating a joint military force against Islamic State militants.
A United States-led coalition of several regional partners continued attacks against the IS nerve-center on Sunday, with 12 airstrikes in Iraq and one in Syria.
Reaction in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video’s authenticity. Hussein said he believed those killed likely were Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.
“If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,” Hussein said.
Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office, told the AP he also believed the victims likely were migrants.
“I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,” Mulugeta said. “No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.”
Ethiopia long has drawn the anger of Islamic extremists over its military’s attacks on neighboring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim. While the militant in the video at one point said “Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap,” it did not specifically mention the Ethiopian government’s actions.
After the February killings of the Coptic Christians, Egypt’s military responded with airstrikes targeting the militant stronghold of Darna. It has not launched further strikes, though its president is trying to form a pan-Arab military force to respond to extremist threats in the region.
Meanwhile, a United States-led coalition of several regional partners continued attacks against the IS nerve-center on Sunday, with 12 airstrikes in Iraq and one in Syria.
Strikes in Iraq’s western Anbar province have stopped IS militants from advancing in recent days, Provincial Chairman Sebah Al Heblousi told VOA.
“The US lead coalition in the past two days has airstrikes on the very important and sensitive targets of the Islamic State that have stopped terrorists from further advances. We appreciate the efforts by the coalition, but we need more aid to eliminate the Islamic State from Anbar province,” Hebolousi said.
More than 90,000 people have fled their homes in the area as IS militants gained ground, the United Nations said Sunday.
“Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing: food, water and shelter are highest on the list of priorities,” said Lise Grande the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq.
Al Heblousi said some aid is arriving to parts of the province, including food and water for displaced residents, as well as police and military forces.