World

Islamic State beheads Christians in Nigeria to avenge death of leader

Group also claims to have killed seven soldiers in Burkina Faso

Reuters, AFP-JIJI

The Islamic State group has released a video purporting to show its militants beheading 10 Christian men in Nigeria, saying it was part of a campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its spokesman.

The militant group posted the footage on its online Telegram news channel on Thursday, the day after Christmas, with Arabic captions but no audio.

The video showed men in beige uniforms and black masks lining up behind blindfolded captives then beheading 10 of them and shooting an 11th man.

An earlier video said the captives had been taken from Maiduguri and Damaturu in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, where militants have been fighting for years to set up a separate Islamist state.

In that video, the captives pleaded for the Christian Association of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to save them.

In a series of comments on Twitter, Buhari condemned the killings.

“These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians, and therefore, we shouldn’t let them divide us and turn us against one another,” Buhari wrote.

Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) split from the militant group Boko Haram in 2016 and has become the region’s dominant jihadi group. Islamist insurgents have killed about 30,000 people in northern Nigeria in the past decade.

Al-Baghdadi died during a U.S. military raid in Syria and Muhajir in a separate military operation, both over the same weekend in late October.

The group on Friday claimed an attack that killed seven soldiers at a base in Burkina Faso, according to the U.S. group SITE, which monitors extremist groups.

The ISWAP did not claim responsibility for a simultaneous assault Tuesday on the nearby city of Arbinda that left 35 civilians dead, including 31 women.

The overall death toll of 42 was one of the highest suffered in Burkina Faso since jihadi violence erupted there five years ago. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore declared two days of national mourning.

An ISWAP suicide driver blew up his vehicle at the base, which was then attacked “by more than 200 heavily armed individuals in pick-up trucks and on motorcycles,” a security source said.

Intense fighting that lasted several hours “killed seven elements” among the Burkina troops, according to the ISWAP message that SITE translated from the original Arabic.

Since 2015, increasingly deadly attacks in Burkina Faso have killed around 750 people and forced 560,000 from their homes.

The entire Sahel region, especially Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, is confronting a relentless wave of jihadi attacks with help from Western countries.

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