This image made from a video released by Islamic State militants on Sunday shows a group of captured Ethiopian Christians taken to a beach before they were killed by Islamic State militants, in Libya. (Militant video via AP)

Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded two groups of Ethiopian Christians, a video purportedly from the extremists showed Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The killings mirror a video released in February showing militants beheading 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. In that video, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) billed the killings as “a message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.”

The new 29-minute video showing captured Ethiopian Christians starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations and includes scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons.

“Despite the cross, we have returned,” the narrator says.

The video shows Islamic State militants marching their victims, in orange jumpsuits, along a coastline. The second group, dressed in black jumpsuits, is executed in the desert.

A masked fighter says Christians must convert to Islam or pay a tax prescribed by the Koran.

“You will not have safety even in your dreams, until you accept Islam,” he says. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood.”

The video alternates between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach, the AP report says. The AP said the video has not been verified, and it was not clear how many captives were killed.

February’s killings of the Coptic Christians sparked a wave of renewed discussion on the persecution of Christians worldwide. After the killings, Egypt’s military responded with airstrikes. Pope Francis and other worldwide religious leaders denounced the killings.

The Islamic State, which has grown in influence since it seized large areas of Iraq last summer, holds about a third of Iraq and Syria. Its online videos, including scenes of its mass killings and beheadings, have caught worldwide attention.

Pope Francis deviated from prepared remarks during a visit from the Church of Scotland, expressing deep sadness over the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach by the Islamic State. (Reuters)

Update on 4/20: Pope Francis expressed his condolences to Abuna Matthias, patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church.

It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ! The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands.

 

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