A group affiliated with the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a vicious mass execution that claimed the lives of eleven Christian aid workers.
The killings were carried out as a retaliation against the killing of leader Bakr al-Baghdadi, who blew himself up after being cornered during a raid by U.S. special forces at the end of October.
The militant group known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province released a gruesome minute-long video of the shooting of one man followed by the beheading of 10 others.
“This message is to the Christians in the world,” a man featured in the video explains, as reported by the New York Times. “Those who you see in front of us are Christians, and we will shed their blood as revenge for the two dignified sheikhs, the caliph of the Muslims, and the spokesman for the Islamic State, Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, may Allah accept them.”
The murders, which took place the day after Christmas, were strategically planned in order to distress the Christian community, according to experts.
Several reports indicate that the men were taken hostage in Maiduguri and Damaturu in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, which has been the epicenter of an increase in Islamic militia-led violence over recent years.
In response to the killings, President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted that Nigerians should “under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims.”
“These barbaric killers don't represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world," he added.
In the video, the Christians can be heard pleading with Buhari to save them from their impending death.
“These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians,” Buahri added in some later comments. “Therefore, we shouldn’t let them divide us and turn us against one another.”
Earlier this month, a British-based religious freedom advocacy group released a report that suggested some 1,000 Christians had been killed in Nigeria this year, mainly at the hands of Boko Haram militants.
Photo courtesy: Pixabay
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.