Members of the European Union have voiced outrage over the beheading of another US journalist by "Islamic State" (IS) militants. French President Hollande said France may consider a military response.
"The outrageous murder of the American journalist Steven Sotloff is another demonstration of the ISIL's determination to pursue and extend its terror strategy," the EU said in a statement, referring to the self-proclaimed "Islamic State's" former name "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."
"The EU remains more committed than ever to support international efforts to fight ISIL and all the terrorist groups who endanger regional and global stability," the 28-member bloc said from Brussels.
"This atrocity, like the considerable number of other human rights violations for which ISIL claims responsibility, is an affront to universally recognized values and rights," the EU added.
The militant group released a video on Tuesday showing the beheading of 31-year-old US journalist Steven Sotloff, two weeks after they decapitated US journalist James Foley. In it, IS also threatened to murder a British citizen.
Over the past two weeks, the group also released videos of the decapitation of a Lebanese soldier and Kurdish Peshmerga fighter.
Help from France?
French President Francois Hollande announced on Wednesday that France might contribute towards a military response against IS.
Hollande "underlined the importance of a political, humanitarian and if necessary military response in accordance with international law" to fight against IS, his office announced.
'Justice will be served'
US President Barack Obama said Wednesday the United States would not be "intimidated" by the "barbarism" and that "justice would be served."
"Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy Islamic State so that it's no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States.
"We will not be intimidated. Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served."
"If they think that we will weaken in the face of their threats, they are wrong. It will have the opposite effect," Obama said.
Over the past weekend, Germany controversially approved sending arms to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq to combat the IS insurgency. Among the weapons to be delivered are 500 anti-tank missiles, 8,000 G36 assault rifles, 40 machine guns, as well as five heavily armored Dingo infantry vehicles.
The decision to arm the Kurds in northern Iraq marks a break with Germany's long-standing policy of not sending arms to conflict zones.
IS has threatened to kill more Westerners in retaliation for US airstrikes in Iraq, vast areas of which are controlled by IS. So far, the US has carried out over 80 airstrikes against the militants in Iraq last month.
The militant group has been wreaking havoc in parts of Syria and Iraq for months. IS claims to be fighting to restore a Middle East caliphate. The violence has so far displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
sb/dr (AFP, dpa)