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ISIS in Egypt Claims to Have Beheaded Croatian Hostage
Tomislav Salopek, an employee of a French geosciences firm, was kidnapped in Cairo last month.
Once more, the Islamic State has published evidence of the beheading of a Western hostage. This time, there’s no video, only a photograph released by the group’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, that appears to show Tomislav Salopek’s body lying in the desert, his severed head lying atop his back. A large knife is seen wedged in the sand next to him. A flag of the Islamic State waves in the background.
Last week, Sinai Province said that it would kill Salopek, an employee of the French geosciences firm CGG who was kidnapped last month outside Cairo, if the Egyptian government did not release three female prisoners in exchange for the Croat’s freedom. The group set Aug. 7 as a deadline for the prisoners’ release. Before pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, the group was known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.
The photograph showing the aftermath of Salopek’s execution was distributed on Twitter Wednesday, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online jihadi statements. A caption accompanying the photo charged Croatia with participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State. While Croatia has not participated with troops, it has pledged to provide arms to Kurdish fighters battling the militants in Iraq.
A spokesperson for Salopek’s employer, CGG, told the Associated Press that they could not confirm Salopek’s death, but that they “fear the worst.” The Croatian government also hasn’t confirmed Salopek’s death, but the country’s prime minister is due to address the nation later Wednesday.
The Egyptian government is currently carrying out a ferocious crackdown on the country’s Islamists, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power promising to restore stability. The beheading of Salopek, if confirmed, would be the latest escalation in what has become an extremely bloody conflict. Scores of Egyptians soldiers have recently died in clashes with Islamist militants, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, and the growing presence of an Islamic State-affiliate would make his already difficult fight against the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies even harder.
Photo credit: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images