22:00 GMT27 January 2020
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    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)
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    US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki announced Tuesday that the US strongly condemned Islamic State's threat to murder Japanese hostages and called for their immediate release.

    WASHINGTON, January 20 (Sputnik) — The United States demanded that the Islamic State (IS) free two Japanese hostages at once, US State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

    "The United States strongly condemns ISIL's threat to murder Japanese citizens. We call for the immediate release of these civilians and all other hostages," Psaki said.

    Psaki also announced that the United States is closely coordinating with Tokyo on resolving the hostage situation and stands "in solidarity with Japan."

    US Secretary of State John Kerry will speak with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida later on Tuesday to underscore American support, she added.

    Earlier on Tuesday, the Islamic State demanded a $200 million ransom in a video that showed a black-masked militant wielding a knife over two hostages, thought to be Haruna Yukawa, the founder of a private security firm, and Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, both of whom were abducted in Syria last year.

    The ransom ties in with the $200 million that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to provide to countries fighting against the IS during his journey to Middle East. Earlier today, Prime Minister Abe said that Japan was not going to give up the help it promised to fight the terrorist group.

    The Islamic State is a jihadist group that has seized large territories in Iraq and Syria. The insurgents have kidnapped a significant number of people and last year released several videos, showing the executions of journalists and aid workers.

    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)


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