The Islamic State group will release a statement “soon” on the two Japanese hostages it has captured and is threatening to execute unless a ransom is paid, a spokesman for the armed group told NHK Thursday night.
In an online report uploaded shortly before 6 a.m. Friday, NHK said it got in contact with the Islamic State official via Internet voice and text messages.
Tokyo is scrambling to save the lives of journalist Kenji Goto, 47, and private security contractor Haruna Yukawa, 42 as the ransom deadline looms. In a video posted by the armed group midday Tuesday, the two Japanese captives were seen kneeling down, while a masked man with a knife demanded a $200 million ransom within 72 hours for their release. The Japanese government has taken the video to mean the deadline is 2:50 p.m. Friday.
The Islamic State spokesman did not respond to a question from NHK about negotiations with the Japanese government, saying, “I won’t comment because it’s not a good question,” the broadcaster reported. The man added, though, that “a statement will be released soon,” according to NHK.
The man also told NHK, “Japanese are irreligious people who are in war with the Islamic State,” the report said.