After Islamic State militants claimed his beheading in a video seen in Japan on Sunday, the U.N. Security Council condemned the “heinous and cowardly” murder of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.
“This crime is, yet again, a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers journalists and others face every day in Syria,” the 15-member body said in a statement.
The council said it “deplored” the apparent killing and “strongly condemned this heinous and cowardly murder.”
The militant group claimed the 47-year-old journalist’s death Saturday in the second purported beheading of a Japanese hostage in a week.
“Those responsible for the killing of Kenji Goto shall be held accountable,” the Security Council stressed, with member states emphasizing that such acts will “not intimidate them but rather stiffen their resolve.”
The execution came as Jordan scrambled to save a captured pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, whom the Islamic State group said it would free in exchange for an Iraqi jihadi on death row in Jordan.
Amman said it would hand the woman over if given proof that al-Kaseasbeh is still alive.
The Security Council demanded “the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those who are kept hostage” by the militants and other al-Qaida affiliates, while sending its “deep sympathy and condolences to the family of the victim, to the government of Japan, as well as to the families of all victims” of the extremist group.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, the leader of Catholics in the Philippines and one of the most influential figures in the global Catholic Church said Monday his nation stands firm with Japan in its hour of grief.
Speaking in Tokyo, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said both Japan and the Philippines have experienced “darkness” in the name of extremism in the past few days.
“We want to convey to the Japanese people our solidarity, our communion in pain and sorrow,” he told worshipers at a packed St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo. “The Filipino and the Japanese people are united in grief in our suffering.”
Tagle drew a parallel between the beheadings of Goto and self-styled security consultant Haruna Yukawa and the massacre of 44 police commandos by Islamic extremists during a botched anti-terrorism raid in the Philippines last week. That nation held a day of mourning Friday.
“Let our communion and solidarity be translated into common action for truth, love, respect for human life and peace,” he said.
Also on Monday, the Japan branch of the London-based human rights group Amnesty International issued a statement in which it condemned the Islamic State group’s involvement in kidnappings and murders of civilians and expressed its grief at the deaths of Yukawa and Goto.
Calling acts of “kidnappings of civilians, torture and summary executions of civilians” war crimes, the organization protested against posting video messages showing the executions online, suggesting it inflicts an unbearable pain on the victims’ families. They demanded the Islamic State militants release the Jordanian air force pilot and urged all parties engaged in armed conflict in Syria and Iraq and countries with influence over the group to work to ensure the safety of civilians.