Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have attended a rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, condemning the murders of Ethiopians by Islamic State militants.
More than 20 migrant workers – most thought to be Ethiopian Christians – were killed by the Libyan branch of IS.
It released videos on Sunday of some of the men being beheaded and others shot.
Ethiopia’s prime minister warned the protesters about the dangers of illegal immigration and described the killings as “Satanic”.
IS and other jihadist groups are active in many towns in Libya, which has been torn by civil conflict since last year – and has been unstable since long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.
“This week’s cruel act which was committed against our citizens in Libya not only gives a glimpse into terrorism, but also shows the Satanic acts and objectives of those who committed the act,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told the mass rally in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square.
He also urged unity in the fight against what he called “home-grown extremism” in Ethiopia, and said those who chose to an illegal route to migrate risked falling prey to human traffickers.
“It is clear to everyone that our fellow citizens all have the right to live and work in any part of the world. But the illegal migration that leads to unnecessary suffering and death carried out by illegal human traffickers must stop.”
However, later the government-condoned protest broke into scuffles with some parts of the crowd throwing stones, chanting anti-government slogans and clashing with police.
Police fired rounds of tear gas at some towards the end of the demonstration, the AFP news agency reports.
The rally comes a month before Ethiopia holds parliamentary elections, the first since the death in 2012 of long-time leader Meles Zenawi.
.Si tratta di Medhanie Yehdego Mered, 34 anni, nato in Eritrea; Ghermay Ermias, nato in Etiopia e residente in Libia, già latitante a seguito di una precedente ordinanza di custodia cautelare; Asghedom Ghermay, 40 anni, detto “Amice”, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato a Catania;Matywos Melles, 48 anni, nato a Asmara (Eritrea) e residente ad Agrigento; Mulubrahan Gurum, 41 anni, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato presso il C.A.R.A. di Mineo (Catania);Andemeskel Yaried, 26 anni, alias Wedi Keshi¸ nato in Eritrea e già domiciliato presso il C.A.R.A. di Mineo; Netsereab Goitom, 36 anni, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato presso il C.A.R.A. di Mineo; Habtom Teklehaimanot, 41 anni, nato in Eritrea, residente a Foggia, ma domiciliato in Catania; Nahome Kerebel Gutama, 31 anni, detto “Nahom”, nato in Eritrea, residente a Lecce, ma domiciliato a Catania; Afomia Eyasu, 34 anni, nata in Eritrea, residente a Santa Elisabetta (Agrigento) e domiciliata a Catania; Munire Ibrahim Omer, 20 anni, detto “Munir”, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato a Catania; Yonas Gebititoys, 27 anni, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato presso il C.A.R.A. di Mineo; Fitiwi Negash, 61 anni, nato in Eritrea e residente in Catania;Tsegay Berih, 29 anni, nato in Eritea e domiciliato presso il C.A.R.A. di Mineo; Yonas Redae, 29 anni, nato a Dekamhare (Eritea), già domiciliato presso il C.A.R.A. di Mineo; Arouna Said Traorè, 25 anni, detto “Rasta”, nato in Costa d’Avorio e residente a Catania; Mohammed Elias, 47 anni, nato in Ghana e domiciliato a Catania; Ibrahima Diallo, 30 anni, nato in Guinea e residente a Catania; Yirga Abrha, 24 anni, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato a Bari; Muktar Hussein, 23 anni, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato a Catania; Andebrahan Tareke, 26 anni, detto “Andat”, nato a Ayekebetsu (Eritrea) e residente a Catania; Efrem Amare, 22 anni, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato a Milano; Micheal Habte Madege, 34 anni, detto “Miky”, nato in Eritrea e domiciliato a Milano; Mudeser Mahamed Omer, 20 anni, nato in Eritrea, residente a Mascalucia (Catania) e domiciliato a Milano.
Prosecutors in Italy say the captain, who survived and faces multiple homicide charges, crashed the boat by mistake against a merchant rescue ship.
The capsize is the deadliest recorded in the Mediterranean, the UN says.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says deaths in 2015 are 30 times higher than the same period last year and could rise to 30,000.
Italian police said they issued an arrest warrant for the Tunisian captain of the boat, Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, and crew member Mahmud Bikhit, a 25-year-old Syrian, as soon as the coastguard vessel Bruno Gregoretti docked.
At the scene: BBC’s James Reynolds in Mineo, Sicily
More than a dozen survivors of the weekend shipwreck are being guarded in a house inside the Mineo migrant centre.
They’ve become the most important witnesses in an official criminal investigation into the wreck of their boat. Italian officials instructed us not to approach or speak to them.
After midday the survivors came out of the house and were escorted the few steps to a waiting minibus. The survivors – all young men – boarded the bus in single file and in silence.
One of them sat next to the window. I caught his eye and signalled a thumbs up or thumbs down sign as a question. He replied with a thumbs up – and then broke out into a smile.
The survivors were then driven a short distance to the dining hall, where they were served a lunch of pasta, rice, chicken and vegetables. They ate in silence.
The prosecutors said it appeared the merchant vessel, the Portuguese ship King Jacob, was not to blame.
The IOM’s Flavio Di Giacomo said the survivors were “very tired, very shocked” when they arrived in Catania.
Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said it had interviewed most of the 28.
He said about 350 on board were believed to be Eritreans, with refugees from other nations including Syria, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.
More than 1,700 migrants are believed to have died so far in 2015.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva: “The 2015 death toll now is more than 30 times last year’s total at this date… when just 56 deaths of migrants had been reported on the Mediterranean.
“IOM now fears the 2014 total of 3,279 migrant [deaths] on the Mediterranean may be surpassed this year in a matter of weeks, and could well top 30,000 by the end of the year, based on the current death toll. It could actually be even higher.”
Separately in Greece, two Syrian men rescued from a vessel which ran aground off Rhodes on Monday, killing three of about 90 migrants on board, will face charges linked to illegal transportation.
The charges came after the EU set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
They include an increase in the financial resources of Frontex, the border agency runs the EU’s Mediterranean rescue service Triton, and an extension of Triton’s operational area.
The EU had been criticised over the scope of Triton, which replaced the larger Italian operation Mare Nostrum at the end of last year.
The United States for years has praised Ethiopia’s fight against terrorism in East Africa, but that hard-line approach to extreme Islamism may have contributed to the bloody execution of dozens of Ethiopian Christians who were targeted by the Islamic State in Libya.
Addis Ababa has been long consumed with a bigger threat on their borders — against the militant group al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia. The slaughter of two groups of Christians, in Libya likely seeking work or passage to Europe, newly confronts Ethiopia with the world’s fastest-spreading insurgency.
Militants in Libya claiming affiliation with the Islamic extremistsdocumented the brutal killings of two groups of Ethiopian Christian men, whom they accuse of belonging to “the hostile Ethiopian Orthodox Church.” Men in one group, clad in orange jumpsuits on the beach, were beheaded. Others, dressed entirely in black, were lined up and shot.
On Monday, J. Peter Pham, the director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, told Foreign Policy that Ethiopia’s involvement in the fight against al-Shabab and other local extremist groups could make Ethiopians an attractive target for the Islamic State.
“The Ethiopian government in the last few years has taken a much stronger line against political Islamism in their own country,” Pham said. “The Ethiopian government acting against jihadists in the horn of Africa and in their own country to repress acts of political Islamism in jihadist circles makes them an attractive target for extremist groups.”
A State Department official told FP Monday that despite broad cooperation between the United States and Ethiopia on anti-terrorism initiatives, there is currently no collaboration between the two governments on a specifically anti-Islamic State program. The State Department’s focus in Ethiopia has landed more heavily on countering al-Shabab, the extremist group responsible for attacks in Somalia and Kenya. The United States has provided equipment, training, and technical support to help counter the group and maintain peace in the region.
“Ethiopia is an important partner in regional-led efforts to counter terrorist group al-Shabab and bring stability to Somalia,” said the official, who refused to be identified by name in this story, following department guidelines. “Ethiopia is contributing over 4,400 personnel deployed as part of the AU [African Union] mission in Somalia.”
The execution is just the most recent example of the Islamic State targeting Christians in its campaign to implement its extreme version of Sharia law in the areas it occupies or controls. In Iraq and Syria, the group has destroyed Christian communities and historical sites. The militants claim they offer Christians the opportunity to convert to Islam or pay a tax to continue practicing Christianity unharmed.
The Islamic State also has repeatedly targeted Shiite Muslims, secular Sunnis, and Iraq’s minority Yazidi population.
This group’s murders mirrored the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach in February, and the video even features the same English-speaking militant who narrated that execution. The Egyptian government launched airstrikes just hours after that video’s release.
The Ethiopian government, however, has not yet announced any kind of retaliatory strike, and the Ethiopian embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment. Just four weeks out from a general election, Pham said it is unlikely the ruling party, which is vying for reelection, would launch any military effort that could be seen as controversial by many Ethiopians hoping not to get involved in an international conflict.
But the government did declare three days of mourning Monday, and said lawmakers will use that time to deliberate a response to the killings.
In a press briefing Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest maintained the U.S. focus on stopping the spread of Islamic State-related attacks throughout the region. “That these terrorists killed these men solely because of their faith points to the terrorists’ vicious, senseless brutality,” Earnest said.
Earnest noted some claims of affiliation with the Islamic State may lack validity. But he also said the possibility of extremists’ expansion into Libya should be taken seriously — and is a major reason President Barack Obama is focused on eliminating the Islamic State at its roots in Iraq and Syria.
Obama remains focused on curbing the Islamic State, and will “not allow it to continue to spread across the region in a way that it could further destabilize an already volatile region of the world,” Earnest said.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras (file)
20 April 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned in the strongest terms the killing of a number of Ethiopian nationals in Libya by extremists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to a United Nations spokesperson.
In a statement released earlier today, Mr. Ban said he “utterly deplores” the targeting of people on the basis of their religious affiliation and expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of the attack.
The Secretary-General reaffirmed that the UN-backed political talks remained “the best chance” for Libyans to overcome their country’s crisis and encourage the parties to make all the necessary compromises to reach an agreement.
“Only by working together will Libyans be able to start building a state and institutions that can confront terrorism,” concluded the statement from Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
ISIL, which is also known by its Arabic designation, Da’esh, has been operative in Libya over the past few months amid intensifying UN-backed efforts to facilitate a political resolution to the country’s ongoing crisis. In late February, for example, the militant group claimed responsibility for a series of attacks killed at least 45 people and injured scores of others in the city of al-Qubbah.
The United States condemned the “brutal mass murder” of 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya following a video released by Islamic State militants purportedly showing their execution.
The 29-minute IS video appears to show militants holding two groups of captives, described in text captions as “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church”.
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan decried the killings and called for stability in Libya, which has been mired in political chaos and unrest since the 2011 uprising that toppled former strongman Moamer Kadhafi.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal mass murder purportedly of Ethiopian Christians by ISIL-affiliated terrorists in Libya,” she said, using another name for IS.
“This atrocity once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya to empower a unified Libyan rejection of terrorist groups.”
Ethiopia said its embassy in Egypt was trying to verify the video to ascertain if those murdered were indeed its nationals.
Egyptians residing in Libya, wait for their departure from Djerba airport on the Tunisian-Libyan bor …
“We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians or not,” Communications Minister Redwan Hussein told AFP.
The video portrays a masked fighter in black brandishing a pistol, who 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.
It was not immediately clear who the captives were or how many were killed.
Before the killings, the video shows purported footage of Christians in Syria, saying they had been given the choice of converting to Islam or paying a special tax, and had decided to pay.
UN envoy Bernardino Leon says after weeks of brokering talks between rival Libyan factions that they …
The video bore the logo of the IS media arm and was similar to past footage released by the jihadists, including of 21 Coptic Christians beheaded on a Libyan beach in February. Several Libyan jihadist groups have pledged allegiance to IS.
Addis Ababa says IS, which has seized chunks of Syria and Iraq and won the support of jihadist groups across the region, has also gained a foothold in Ethiopia.
“There are elements of IS around Ethiopia who are already carrying out operations, even though under a different name,” said Redwan, referring to the Shebab group.
“We will keep on fighting them.”
– Fears for Christians –
Forces loyal to Libya’s Islamist-backed parliament General National Congress (GNC) prepare attac …
Since the 2011 revolt, Libya has been awash with weapons, has rival governments and parliaments, and is on the edge of all-out civil war as armed groups battle to control its cities and oil wealth.
Officials have repeatedly warned that Libya could become a jihadist haven on Europe’s doorstep unless the violence stops and a national unity government is formed.
And waves of would-be immigrants including Ethiopians have been using Libya as a stepping stone to embark on perilous sea crossings to Europe. More than 700 people are feared drowned in the latest disaster.
On Sunday, UN envoy Bernardino Leon said after weeks of brokering talks between rival Libyan factions that they had reached a draft accord which is “very close to a final agreement”.
Speaking to reporters in Morocco, Leon also said preparations were under way for armed groups to hold direct talks to end the conflict.
Referring to the IS video and fighting in Libya, Leon said: “We know that the enemies of peace, the enemies of the agreement, will be active and be even more active in the coming days and weeks.”
The IS execution of Copts in February prompted retaliatory air strikes from Egypt, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pushing for the creation of a joint Arab military force to battle jihadists.
Arab military chiefs will meet on Wednesday in Cairo to discuss how the force will be created, its role and financing, an Arab League official said.
A US-led coalition of Western and Arab nations is already waging an air war against IS in Syria and Iraq.
IS has carried out atrocities against minorities — including Christians and Yazidis — sparking fears for the fate of vulnerable communities in mostly Muslim nations.