The White House has condemned "in the strongest terms" the Islamic State's mass murder of 30 Ethiopian Christians and admitted the victims were killed by the Muslim terrorists because of their faith.
"We express our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Ethiopian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens," National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement on Sunday. "That these terrorists killed these men solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists' vicious, senseless brutality."
On Sunday, ISIS released a 30-minute video, titled "Until There Came to Them Clear Evidence," which shows the slaughter of the captives in two different locations in Libya. The men in one of the groups were apparently shot to death, while the others were beheaded. In the video, a narrator speaking in a north American accent warns "the nation of the cross" that more killings are to come, vowing further "revenge" for what it called "shed Muslim blood" in the region.
"All praise be to Allah, the lord and cherisher of the world, and may peace and blessings be upon the prophet Muhammad," the narrator says. "To the nation of the cross, we are back again on the sands, where the companions of the prophet, peace be upon him, have stepped on before, telling you: Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap."
The voice continues: "In fact, their blood is the purest blood because there is a nation behind them (which) inherits revenge. And 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."
The latest ISIS massacre is similar to the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians in February, which was titled "A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross."
In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video's authenticity, but noted that those killed were likely Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe.
"If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe through the dangerous route,'' Hussein said.
Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Patriarchate Office, told the AP there is no doubt that the victims were killed solely because of their faith.
"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,'' Mulugeta said. "No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.''
The terror group, which has overtaken large parts of Iraq and Syria, continues to target Christians in an attempt to rid the region of religions other than Islam. Earlier this year, ISIS demanded $30 million to free up to 300 Assyrian Christians it has been holding captive since February, and warned the hostages will be killed unless they receive $100,000 per individual.
However, an officer within the Assyrian leadership said that it is up to the international community to help.
"They know we cannot come up with this kind of money, so they are hoping other groups and countries will come up with the money," the official said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. led coalition continued attacks against the terrorist group on Sunday, with 12 airstrikes in Iraq and one in Syria. Strikes in Iraq's western Anbar province have stopped IS militants from advancing in recent days, Provincial Chairman Sebah Al Heblousi told the AFP.
"The US lead coalition in the past two days has airstrikes on the very important and sensitive targets of the Islamic State that have stopped terrorists from further advances. We appreciate the efforts by the coalition, but we need more aid to eliminate the Islamic State from Anbar province," Hebolousi said.