IS group says it has killed Norwegian, Chinese captives

CAIRO – The Islamic State group said Wednesday that it has killed Norwegian and Chinese captives after earlier demanding ransoms for the two men.

The extremist group published two images of the men in the second-to-last page of its glossy English-language magazine, saying they had been “executed after being abandoned by kafir nations and organizations.” ”Kafir” is the Arabic word for infidel. In the images, the men both appeared to have been shot to death.

There was no immediate reaction in Beijing to the announcement, nor from the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The Norwegian prime minister’s office could not confirm the death. Its spokeswoman Trude Maseide told the Norwegian news agency NTB that there are “published photos that indicate that the hostage Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad has been executed. We are trying to get it verified and will come back with further information.”

Grimsgaard-Ofstad has previously been identified as a 48-year-old graduate student in political philosophy from Porsgrunn, south of Oslo. The Chinese man had been identified as Fan Jinghui, 50, a self-described “wanderer” from Beijing who once taught middle school.

The militants did not say when or where the two were captured when announcing their captivity in a previous issue of the magazine, which showed them in yellow jumpsuits. However, the last post on Grimsgaard-Ofstad’s Facebook page, dated Jan. 24, said he had arrived in Idlib, Syria, on his way to Hama.

The IS group controls large areas in Iraq and Syria. The killing of the two men stood in contrast to other filmed beheadings and atrocities carried out by the group since it seized a third of Iraq in a lightning advance in 2014.

The demand for a cash ransom also stood in contrast to the group’s other hostage demands, though journalists, aid workers and others have been abducted for ransom by a variety of militants in the Syrian civil war. Some were later sold to the Islamic State group.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg had told journalists in September her nation would not pay a ransom.

The announced killings come as Islamic State militants face increasing airstrikes from a variety of countries, including the U.S., Russia and France, as well as ground attacks from Kurdish and other forces.

The group’s online magazine, which is titled “Dabiq” after a town in Syria, contains articles, interviews, opinion pieces and other propaganda. It has a professional layout, complete with photos and graphics. The latest issue celebrates the Paris attacks on its cover with the headline “Just Terror.”

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