An affiliate of the ISIS terrorist group in Nigeria killed up to 11 Christian hostages on Wednesday, Christmas Day, according to reports.
Local news outlet Salkida and Pulse.ng reported that ISIS offshoot ISWAP released a video of the execution of the 11 hostages. Salkida noted that the 11 slain captives may not have all been Christians, but it confirmed that many—if not all—of them were.
“A video recording of their plea for intervention” surfaced earlier this month, the Salkdia report said, adding that they had pleaded with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria for their rescue.
The terrorist organization said in the video that they spared the lives of two people who appeared in the earlier video, but the identities of the people were not disclosed. Other details about the captives are not clear.
The murders were apparently in retaliation for the U.S.-led mission to kill or capture ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria several months ago, which resulted in the death of the terrorist leader.
“We killed them as a revenge for the killings of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir in Iraq and Syria,” a person in the video said, as reported by Salkida.
The executions came several hours after Boko Haram terrorists killed seven people on Christmas Eve in a raid on a Christian village near Chibok in Borno state, according to The Guardian Nigeria.
A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued a response about the recent civilian deaths in Nigeria.
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports that civilians have been executed, and others abducted, by an armed group in northern Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and reiterates the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Nigeria,” a Dec. 24 statement said. It appears the statement was making a reference to the Boko Haram attack.
The attacks come as several high-profile western leaders have sought to raise awareness about the persecution of Christians around the world.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to defend Christians around the world in his first Christmas message since taking office.
He said in a Christmas Day video: “Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution. For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell. As prime minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.”