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Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 23:06

Croatian hostage 'beheaded in Egypt'

By Associated Press

Croatian hostage 'beheaded in Egypt'
This image made from a militant video posted on a social media site on Aug 5, 2015, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting purports to show a militant standing next to another man who identifies himself as 30-year-old Tomislav Salopek, kneeling down as he reads a message at an unknown location. An online image purports to show the Croatian hostage being held by an Islamic State affiliate in Egypt has been beheaded. (Militant video via AP, File)

CAIRO — Islamic State sympathizers circulated an image Wednesday that appears to show the grisly aftermath of the beheading of a Croatian hostage abducted in Egypt, which if confirmed would mark the first such killing of a foreign captive in the country since the extremist group established a branch here last year.

The killing of the 30-year-old oil and gas sector surveyor likely will rattle companies with expatriate workers in Egypt and cast a cloud over President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's attempts to boost international investment and tourism following years of unrest.

The still image, shared by IS supporters on social media, appeared to show the body of Tomislav Salopek, a married father of two, wearing a beige jumpsuit resembling the one he had worn in a previous video. A black flag used by the Islamic State and a knife were planted in the sand next to him.

The photo carried a caption in Arabic that said Salopek was killed "for his country's participation in the war against the Islamic State," and after a deadline had passed for the Egyptian government to meet his captors' demands.

The picture also contained an inset of two Egyptian newspaper reports, with one headline declaring Croatia's support for Egypt in its war against terrorism and another saying Croatia reiterated its support for the Kurds, who have been battling the IS group in Syria and Iraq. Croatian troops fought in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and still serve in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's prestigious religious institute, condemned the apparent killing, calling it a "demonic act of which all religions and human traditions are innocent." The statement also said Islamic law stipulates that it is forbidden to shed the blood of foreigners.

Exiled members of the Muslim Brotherhood group, branded a terrorist organization by authorities, said the beheading was a sign that the government had failed to curb the rise of extremism in the country.

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