The Islamic State group said Wednesday that it has killed Chinese and Norwegian captives after earlier demanding ransoms for the two men.
The extremist group published two images of the men in the second-to-last page of its glossy English-language magazine with the headline “The fate of the two prisoners”, saying they had been “executed after being abandoned by kafir nations and organizations.” ”Kafir” is the Arabic word for infidel. In the images, the men both appeared to have both been shot to death.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said Wednesday that while they are still verifying the information they are stricken by the news.
“The Chinese side has taken note of the relevant report and is deeply shocked by that,” Hong said. “Ever since the Chinese citizen was held hostage by the Islamic State group, the Chinese government has been sparing no effort in rescuing him. We are still verifying the information.”
Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Rune Bjastad said: “We have no confirmation yet.” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg had told journalists in September her nation would not pay a ransom.
The Chinese man had been identified as Fan Jinghui, 50, a self-described “wanderer” from Beijing who once taught middle school.
The Norwegian man had been identified as Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, 48, a graduate student in political philosophy from Porsgrunn, south of Oslo.
The militants did not say when or where the two were captured when announcing their captivity in a previous issue of the magazine, which showed them in yellow jumpsuits. However, the last post on Grimsgaard-Ofstad’s Facebook page, dated Jan. 24, said he had arrived in Idlib, Syria, on his way to Hama.
The Islamic State group controls large areas in Iraq and Syria. The killing of the two men stood in contrast to other filmed beheadings and atrocities carried out by the group since seizing a third of Iraq in a lightning advance in 2014.
The demand for a cash ransom also stood in contrast to the group’s other hostage demands, though journalists, aid workers and others have been abducted for ransom by a variety of militants in the Syrian civil war. Some were later sold to the Islamic State group.
The announced killings come as Islamic State militants face increasing airstrikes from a variety of countries, including the U.S., Russia and France, as well as ground attacks from Kurdish and other forces.
The group’s online magazine, which is titled “Dabiq” after a town in Syria, contains articles, opinion pieces and other propaganda from the group. It has a professional layout, complete with photos and graphics. The latest issue celebrates the Paris attacks on its cover with the headline “Just Terror.”
Story by the Associated Press