UN Security Council
UN Security CouncilReuters

The UN Security Council condemned on Sunday the "heinous and cowardly" murder of a Japanese journalist, after Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists claimed his beheading.

"This crime is, yet again, a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers journalists and others face every day in Syria," the 15-member body said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency.

The Security Council said it "deplored" the apparent killing of Kenji Goto, and "strongly condemned this heinous and cowardly murder."

ISIS on Saturday claimed the 47-year-old journalist's death in the second purported beheading of a Japanese hostage in a week.

In the video, Goto is seen kneeling next to a standing masked man who speaks with a British accent and blames the Japanese government for his "slaughter."

"Those responsible for the killing of Kenji Goto shall be held accountable," the Security Council stressed, with member states emphasizing that such acts would "not intimidate them but rather stiffen their resolve."

The execution came as Jordan scrambled to save captured pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whom ISIS said it would free in exchange for an Iraqi jihadist on death row in Jordan.

Amman said it would hand the woman over if given proof that Kassasbeh is still alive.

The Security Council demanded "the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those who are kept hostage" by ISIS and other Al-Qaeda affiliates, while sending its "deep sympathy and condolences to the family of the victim, to the government of Japan, as well as to the families of all victims of ISIS," according to AFP.

Goto was beheaded after the group claimed the killing of self-described contractor Haruna Yukawa last week, after the expiration of a 72-hour deadline during which the fighters had asked Tokyo to pay a $200 million ransom.

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 Goto.

"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," Obama said.

"Standing together with a broad coalition of allies and partners, the United States will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy [ISIS]," he vowed.