US slams ISIS beheadings of Egyptian Christians
16 February 2015, 09:24
Washington - The United States condemned the Islamic State group's apparent beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya after it released a video claiming to show the killings on Sunday, describing it as “despicable”.
"The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists," White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said.
"ISIL's barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity," Earnest added, saying the latest bloodshed "only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL".
The Islamic State group in Libya released a video purportedly showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, prompting Egypt's president to threaten a "suitable" punishment for the killings.
In the video, militants in black marched the captives, dressed in orange jump suits, to a beach in the Libyan province of Tripoli.
They were forced down onto their knees, then beheaded. The video appeared on the Twitter feed of a website that supports Islamic State.
A caption on the five-minute video read: "The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church."
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said his country reserved the right to "punish these murderers" as he called a meeting of security chiefs and declared seven days of mourning after the video was distributed by jihadists on social media.
Thousands of Egyptians have travelled to neighbouring Libya in search of jobs since an uprising at home in 2011, despite advice from their government not to go to one of the most dangerous countries in the region.
Before the killings, one of the militants stood with a knife in his hand and said: "Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for."
"This heinous act once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya," Earnest added.