World leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande condemned on Saturday night the beheading of a Japanese hostage by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.
"The United States condemns the heinous murder of Japanese citizen and journalist Kenji Goto by the terrorist group ISIL," Obama said in a statement, using another acronym by which ISIS is known, reported AFP.
"Through his reporting, Mr. Goto courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world," he added.
"Our thoughts are with Mr. Goto's family and loved ones, and we stand today in solidarity with Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people in denouncing this barbaric act," Obama said.
"We applaud Japan's steadfast commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Middle East and globally, including its generous assistance for innocent people affected by the conflicts in the region."
"Standing together with a broad coalition of allies and partners, the United States will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy [ISIS]," Obama vowed.
Hollande said he "resolutely" condemned the “brutal murder of Japanese citizen Kenji Goto by Daesh," using an alternative acronym for the group, according to a statement from his office quoted by AFP.
"France stands in solidarity with Japan in this new ordeal," Hollande said, adding that France and Japan would "continue to work together for peace in the Middle East and to eliminate terrorist groups."
Cameron condemned the beheading as "appalling".
"I utterly condemn what appears to be the despicable and appalling murder of Kenji Goto," he said in a statement quoted by AFP.
"It is a further reminder that [ISIS] is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life," he added.
The group’s claim was made in a video released online earlier that included no mention of a Jordanian pilot also being held by ISIS, whom the jihadist group has also threatened to kill.
Goto is seen kneeling next to a standing masked man who speaks with a British accent and blames the Japanese government for his "slaughter."
He was the second Japanese hostage beheaded by ISIS, after the group claimed responsibility last week for the killing of self-described contractor Haruna Yukawa, after the expiration of a 72-hour deadline during which the jihadists had asked Tokyo to pay a $200 million ransom.