Sat, Jan 24, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Militants put Japanese captives on clock

AP, TOKYO

Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, one of two Japanese men being held by the Islamic State group, speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group posted an online warning that the “countdown has begun” for the group to kill a pair of Japanese hostages.

The posting which appeared last night showed a clock counting down to zero along with images of other hostages who have been beheaded by the Islamic State group.

The militant group gave Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a 72-hour deadline, which expired yesterday, to pay a US$200 million ransom for the two hostages.

The posting on a forum popular among Islamic State militants and sympathizers did not show any images of the Japanese hostages.

In the past, the Web site has posted Islamic State group videos very quickly, sometimes before anyone else.

Nippon Television Network first reported the message in Japan.

The status of efforts to free the two men was unclear. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, when asked about the latest message, said Japan was analyzing it.

“The situation remains severe, but we are doing everything we can to win the release of the two Japanese hostages,” Suga said.

He said Japan is using every channel it can find, including local tribal chiefs, to try to reach the captors.

He said there has been no direct contact from the hostage takers.

Abe convened the Japanese National Security Council to discuss how to handle the crisis, as the mother of one of the captives appealed for her son’s rescue.

“Time is running out. Please, Japanese government, save my son’s life,” said Junko Ishido, the mother of 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto.

“My son is not an enemy of the Islamic State,” she said in a tearful appearance in Tokyo.

Ishido said she was astonished and angered to learn from her daughter-in-law that Goto had left less than two weeks after his child was born in October last year to go to Syria to try to rescue the other hostage, 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa.

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