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Ethiopia to hold national mourning after IS kills Christians

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This undated image made from a video released by Islamic State militants, Sunday, April 19, 2015, appears to show the killing of a group of captured Ethiopian Christians in Libya. (Photo: AP)

This undated image made from a video released by Islamic State militants, Sunday, April 19, 2015, appears to show the killing of a group of captured Ethiopian Christians in Libya. (Photo: AP)

Ethiopia will hold three days of national mourning for Ethiopian Christians killed by Islamic State militants in Libya, the government said Monday.

The mourning period will begin Tuesday after its official launch by parliament, Communications Minster Redwan Hussein told AFP.

State television said flags would fly at half mast.

The 29-minute video issued by the IS group purports to show militants holding two groups of captives, described in text captions as “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church”.

A masked fighter in black brandishing a pistol makes a statement threatening Christians if they do not convert to Islam.

The video then switches between footage of one group of about 12 men being beheaded by masked militants on a beach and another group of at least 16 being shot in the head in a desert area.

Addis Ababa has condemned the killings, and said its embassy in Egypt was trying to confirm exactly how many died and their identities.

“Many of them were Ethiopians, even though we don’t know the exact number yet,” Redwan said, adding that it remained unclear if it would be possible to recover the bodies.

African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma condemned the “barbaric and cowardly act”.

She said the 54-member bloc — which is headquartered in Addis Ababa — would boost efforts “towards the restoration of effective state institutions and security in Libya.”

The United States has called the killings “brutal mass murder”, while the European Union said it was a “criminal” effort to create religious divisions.

Almost two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians, the majority of those Orthodox Copts — who say they have been in the Horn of Africa nation since the first century AD — as well as large numbers of Protestants.

Islam also has an ancient history in Ethiopia, brought to the country by some of the earliest followers of the Prophet Mohammed, who were sheltered there by the Christian king.

African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma condemned the “barbaric and cowardly act”.

She said the 54-member bloc — which is headquartered in Addis Ababa — would boost efforts “towards the restoration of effective state institutions and security in Libya.”

The United States has called the killings “brutal mass murder”, while the European Union said it was a “criminal” effort to create religious divisions.

Almost two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians, the majority of those Orthodox Copts — who say they have been in the Horn of Africa nation since the first century AD — as well as large numbers of Protestants.

Islam also has an ancient history in Ethiopia, brought to the country by some of the earliest followers of the Prophet Mohammed, who were sheltered there by the Christian king.


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