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Ethiopia confirms its citizens killed in Libya 'Islamic State' video

Authorities in Ethiopia have confirmed many of the Christians shown being shot and beheaded in a video purportedly made by the "Islamic State" group were its citizens. Militants claimed the victims were killed in Libya.

Ethiopia will observe three days of national mourning starting Tuesday, its government announced Monday, in reaction to the release of a video showing about 30 people being murdered in Libya.

"The Ethiopian government is deeply saddened by the barbarous act committed against our innocent nationals," a government statement read, adding that officials were working to identify the victims.

The 29-minute video released online Sunday showed about 12 men being beheaded on a beach, while a further approximately 16 people were shot in the head in a desert area. The victims were identified in the video as "followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church." It was claimed one group had been held by an "Islamic State" (IS) affiliated group in the east of the country, while the second group was with an IS ally in Libya's south.

Killings condemned

The "Islamic State" video was strongly condemned by several world leaders.

African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma called it a "barbaric and cowardly act," adding that the 54-member bloc would boost efforts "towards the restoration of effective state institutions and security in Libya."

Those sentiments were echoed by French President Francois Hollande, who said in a statement that he was outraged at the "abominable" murders.

"A national peace deal remains both necessary and urgent to restore order and security in Libya," Hollande said.

The European Union and the United States have also condemned the killings.

"This not a clash of civilizations, this not a fight between Islam and the West," an EU spokesman said in a statement, adding "This is a criminal misuse of a noble religion to perpetrate terrorist attacks in a struggle for power."

Security lacking

The security situation in Libya since its 2011 revolt against longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi has grown increasingly precarious, as rival governments and armed groups battle for control. Several armed jihadist organizations in Libya have pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. The power vacuum has also turned the country into a hub for people-smugglers sending migrants to Europe in unsafe boats across the Mediterranean.

During Ethiopia's three days of mourning, flags will be flown at half-mast to mourn what the country described as "atrocities committed against our nationals in Libya and South Africa." Ethiopians have also been affected by anti-immigrant violence in South Africa.

se/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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