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News 12 Aug 15

Croatian Hostage Feared Beheaded by ISIS

As unconfirmed photo of beheaded figure appears on Twitter, fears grow that terrorist group ISIS has executed Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek in Egypt.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Tomislav Salopek reading the message.

Media reports on Wednesday said ISIS may have executed Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek, who was captured in Cairo in late July.

After a photograph of what appeared to be Salopek's decapited body was published on Twitter, media reports said he may have been executed by ISIS, although the photograph's veracity was not yet proven. The image originally appeared on a Twitter account whose description read: "Account Hacked .. ISLAMIC STATE."

The deadline ISIS set for 30-year-old Salopek expired on Friday. Egyptian authorities did not fulfill the group's demand for the release of imprisoned Muslim women.

The Croatian foreign ministry has not confirmed the killing and said it cannot comment as yet. The Prime Minister was due to give a press conference at 5pm. Throughout the past week, ministry urged the media not to report unconfirmed reports and publish only what has been confirmed by ministry.

The Croat was taken hostage by ISIS on July 22. A video showing him reading out the militant group’s demands was published online last Wednesday.

In the video, he said that ISIS would kill him within 48 hours, on Friday at 5.35 pm Central European Time, if its demands were not fulfilled. 

Salopek has a wife and two children in Croatia and worked as a topographer at a French company, Compagnie Générale de Géophysique. The company confirmed last Wednesday that Salopek was an employee.

The French ambassador in Zagreb, Michele Boccoz, on Saturday said that the Egyptian authorities had made progress in tracking down Salopek.

Salopek was taken hostage while driving to work in a company car, on a road where no similar incidents had been recorded before. Armed men stopped the car and made the driver leave the vehicle.

The Sinai Peninsula in the east of Egypt is a centre of an Islamist insurgency led by a militant group originally called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which then became part of ISIS in 2014.

Salopek's reported execution, if confirmed, is the second involving Croatia. In September 2014, ISIS executed a 44-year-old British aid worker David Haines, who was married to a Croatian citizen and lived in the town of Sisak in central Croatia. Haines, who lived in Sisak since the 1990s, was kidnapped in the Syrian region of Idlib in March 2014.

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