The Islamic State group has said it executed one of two Japanese hostages it has been holding, in an apparent beheading that has been slammed by leaders around the world.
The claim, made Sunday, came a day after the release of a video announcing the murder of security contractor Haruna Yukawa by the jihadist group, which has beheaded five Western hostages since August last year.
It sought to raise the pressure on Japan by saying the fate of the other captive, freelance journalist Kenji Goto, depended on the release of an Iraqi would-be female bomber who is on death row in Jordan.
“The Islamic State has carried out its threat… it has executed Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa after the expiry of the deadline given,” the jihadist group said on its Al-Bayan radio.
“The second hostage is calling on his relatives to put pressure on the (Japanese) government for the release of our sister Sajida al-Rishawi, held in the jails of the oppressors in Jordan, in exchange for his release.”
Rishawi was sentenced to death by a Jordanian court in September 2006 in connection with triple hotel bomb attacks in Amman the previous year, which killed 60 people.
Her name emerged Saturday in an IS video that showed Goto holding what appears to be a photograph of Yukawa’s slain body. The audio recording was of a man claiming to be Goto who says Yukawa was killed because Japan had failed to pay a $200 million ransom within a 72-hour deadline announced Tuesday.
The video unleashed a tide of global revulsion while Yukawa’s father voiced horror and shock.