Members of the ISIS-affiliated terror group Boko Haram on Thursday released video showing the killing of 11 Christian hostages in Nigeria — an act said to “avenge” the death of their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a U.S. raid in Syria in October.
The 56-second video released by the terror group and reported by BBC, shows the shooting of one victim and the beheadings of the others. No details were provided for the victims, but the group was all-male and the terror group members claimed they caught the victims in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State in recent weeks.
The video was released on Dec. 26, just one day after Christmas and was likely timed to coincide with the holiday.
“We killed them as revenge for the killing of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and [ISIS spokesman] Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir,” one member of the ISIS media group, Amaq, told journalist Ahmad Salkida.
He was the first to receive the footage of the killings, BBC reported.
The ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram group has been active throughout Nigeria, as well as the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali.
One faction of Boko Haram, known as Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), reportedly killed four other aid workers this month and last year killed two midwives they had taken hostage.
The terror group reportedly still holds dozens more hostages, including security forces, aid workers and those perceived as affiliated with the Nigerian government. The group has used hostages as a bargaining tool for the release of their own captured members or for ransom money and have recently called on the Nigerian government and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
This week’s killing — the largest recorded killing by the terror group — may have been carried out with the intent to increase tension between Christians and Muslims in the country.
The group also carried a Christmas Eve attack on a Christian village, according to the Daily Mail. They reportedly killed seven more and took abducted a teenage girl during the attack. They also stole food from the village and burned down several houses and a church.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings and called on Nigerians to not be divided by the religious motives of the killers.
“We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world,” Buhari said in a statement.
The aid agencies whose staff are reportedly being held captive did not respond to BBC requests for comment. It is not known how many hostages the terror group still hold captive at this time.