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Gruesome Islamic State Video Purportedly Shows Mass Killing of Ethiopian Christians

A new video released Sunday appears to show at least a dozen Ethiopian men being shot and decapitated by members of two Islamic State offshoots in Libya.
Imagen vía Al Furqan/Islamic State

A new video released Sunday by the Islamic State (IS) appears to show the gruesome killing of at least a dozen Ethiopian men through decapitation and shooting.

The video is described as showing two separate groups of hostages being killed by separate IS offshoots in Libya. The two groups are named as Wilayat Barqa, which claims to hold territory on the Mediterranean coast, and Wilayat Fazzan, which controls part of the country's south.

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The footage, which bears the hallmarks of previous IS propaganda films, including the logo of the group's Al-Furqan media arm, is more than 29 minutes long. It begins with a description of Christian churches and calls the Holy Trinity — the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit — a form of polytheism whose worshippers deserve punishment.

Related: On the frontline of Libya's fight against the Islamic State 

Toward the end of the video, two groups of men in orange and black jumpsuits are shown being escorted by armed IS members in two different locations. A masked man addresses the camera and gives a warning to viewers.

"Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap," the man says. "We swear to Allah the one, who disgraced you by our hands, you will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam."

After the man speaks, the video cuts between the two groups as one group is shot and the other decapitated with knives.

The video also shows IS members breaking and defacing Catholic and Christian iconography, including crosses on top of churches and pictures and statues of the Virgin Mary. As the crosses fall, IS militants are shown replacing them with the group's black flag.

The executed men are declared in the video to be "worshippers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian Church," but their nationality or religious affiliation could not be independently verified by VICE News. Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church's Patriarchate Office, told the Associated Press he believed those killed were likely Ethiopian migrants trying to reach Europe.

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"I believe this is just another case of the [Islamic State] group killing Christians in the name of Islam," Mulugeta told the AP. "Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous. No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion."

Related: Islamic State offshoot claims deadly suicide attack in Afghanistan

The video was released the same day that the United Nations reported that at least 90,000 people have fled the advance of IS fighters in Ramadi, Iraq.

"Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing — food, water and shelter are highest on the list of priorities," Lise Grande, the deputy special representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, said in a statement.

The report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that thousands were fleeing the Anbar region on foot, moving toward Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

"Seeing people carrying what little they can and rushing for safety is heart-breaking," Grande said. "We are very worried about people's safety; the situation is dramatic and only urgent action can save lives."

Follow Gillian Mohney on Twitter: @gillianmohney