Japan, Jordan Seek News on Fate of ISIL Captives
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Japan and Jordan scrambled to find out what had happened to two of their nationals being held by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after a deadline passed for the release of a would-be suicide bomber being held on death row in Amman.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto.
"We are gathering and analyzing information while asking for cooperation from Jordan and other countries, making every effort to free Kenji Goto," he told a parliamentary panel.
Jordan's army said state agencies were "working round the clock".
Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding the Iraqi woman prisoner as a deadline passed for her release set by Islamic State militants, who threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot unless she was handed over by sunset.
An audio message purportedly from Goto said the pilot would be killed if Jordan did not free Sajida al-Rishawi, in jail for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in the Jordanian capital Amman.
The message extended a previous deadline set on Tuesday in which Goto said he would be killed within 24 hours if al-Rishawi was not freed, Reuters reported.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said late on Friday that Tokyo was doing everything it could, but declined to answer whether negotiations had stalled.
"We are doing the things we have to, one after the other, steadily," he told a news conference.
The hostage crisis comes as ISIL, which has already released videos showing the beheadings of five Western hostages, is coming under increased military pressure from U.S.-led air strikes and by Kurdish and Iraqi troops pushing to reverse the group's territorial gains in Iraq and Syria.