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Libya: IS kill 30 Christians, destroy churches

20 April 2015

IS kill 30 Christians, destroy churches

Islamic State (IS) militants have released a new video purportedly showing the killing of up to 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya. Footage also includes the destruction of a number of churches, altars and works of art.

The footage shows the fate of two groups of captives: the first group of men were beheaded on a beach, a second group of fifteen are shot in the back of the head in a desert.

In the video, a masked militant with a gun threatens Christians with death if they do not convert to Islam or 'pay jizyah [a tax for non-Muslims] with willing submission, feeling yourself subdued'.

"To the nation of the cross, we're back again," says a masked figure. "Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap... We swear to Allah... You will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam... Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood, until there is no more polytheism."

'Worshipers of the cross'

The victims are believed to be members of the Ethiopian church seized in Libya by IS-linked militants. In its subtitles, the video claims that the victims are 'worshipers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church'.

The authenticity of the tape has not been verified. Open Doors staff in Ethiopia report that although the government has condemned the incident, it also expressed doubt that all victims were Ethiopian. Nevertheless, news of the killings accompanied by gruesome images has shocked the country. "Many people have expressed anger and frustration about the incident," said a staff member who remains anonymous for security reasons.

Local workers are trying to check identities and see if they can get in contact with family members.

According to the video, the latest killings took place in the south and the east of the country, where some local extremist groups have pledged allegiance to IS. It is further demonstration of the disintegration of Libyan society.

Pray for safety

It is unclear why IS specifically targeted Ethiopians, as neither the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) nor any of the local evangelical churches have been vocal in criticizing or campaigning against IS or its affiliates. However, it is possible that Ethiopia is being punished for its involvement in fighting the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia.

Another motive might be the imprisonment of Ali Adorus (33), an associate of the notorious 'Jihadi John' (Mohammed Emwazi) - the man thought to be the person seen in several IS videos of beheadings in 2014 and 2015. Adorus, a UK citizen born in Ethiopia, entered Ethiopia in 2011 and was arrested in January 2014 for allegedly trying to establish Islamic rule through acts of 'terrorism'.

At the time of writing there had been no official response by EOC or any other religious institution. Although Ethiopia has been largely able to avoid the mayhem associated with growing Islamic extremism, local workers fear that the execution of these Ethiopian Christians will heighten tensions between Muslims and Christians.

"Let's pray for the safety of Christians in the country and beyond," requested our local workers.

Source: Open Doors; BBC; Reuters; Guardian

Please pray:

  • For Christians in Ethiopia to know God's presence as they respond to the executions and to any resulting tensions
  • For comfort for those bereaved by these horrific murders
  • For strength for Christians in Libya, living in fear and watching their places of worship destroyed.

BBC: IS releases new 'killing' video of Ethiopian Christians New Window

More News from Libya:

Find out more about persecution in Libya.