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Countdown for Japan’s hostages has begun: IS-linked militants

Countdown for Japan’s hostages has begun: IS-linked militants
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group have posted an online warning that the “countdown has begun” for the group to kill a pair of Japanese hostages.

The posting which appeared today shows a clock counting down to zero along with gruesome 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 on Friday to pay a $200 million ransom for the two hostages. The posting on a forum popular among Islamic State militants and sympathisers did not show any images of the Japanese hostages.

In the past the website 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.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, when asked about the latest message, said Japan was analysing 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.


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