Friday 9 December 2016

Some 30 Christians murdered by Isil in gruesome new video

Sylvia Westall Cairo

Published 20/04/2015 | 02:30

This undated image made from a video released by Islamic State militants
This undated image made from a video released by Islamic State militants
An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians
Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Wilayat Fazzan
Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Wilayat Barqa

Isil militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of up to 30 captive Ethiopian Christians, according to a new video from the extremists posted online yesterday.

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The attack widens the circle of nations affected by Isil's atrocities while showing its growth beyond a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

The release of the 29-minute video comes a day after Afghanistan's president blamed the extremists for a suicide attack in his country that killed at least 35 people - and underscores the chaos gripping Libya after its 2011 civil war and the killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

It also mirrored a film released in February showing militants beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group's suspected positions in Libya.

An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians
An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians

Ethiopia long has drawn the anger of Islamic extremists over its military's attacks on neighbouring 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.

The video, released via militant social media accounts and websites, could not be independently verified. However, it corresponded to other videos released by the Isil group and bore the symbol of its al-Furqan media arm.

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The video starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Koran.

It shows one group of captives, identified as Ethiopian Christians, purportedly held by an Isil affiliate in eastern Libya, known as Barqa Province. It also shows another group purportedly held by an affiliate in southern Libya, calling itself the Fazzan Province. The video then switches between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach.

It was not immediately possible to estimate how many captives were killed or confirm their identities.

In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said he believed those killed 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.

Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Wilayat Barqa
Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Wilayat Barqa

"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, said he also believed the victims likely were migrants.

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"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," Mr Mulugeta said.

"No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion."

Ethiopia's options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from Libya. However, Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohammed Edrees said his country could partner with Addis Ababa to strike the militants.

"That could be an option," Mr Edrees said. "We will see and explore what is possible to deal with group."

Edrees said Ethiopian officials had yet to approach Egypt to discuss the idea.

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.

Irish Independent

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