China, Norway condemn ISIS executions of hostages
THE extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has incurred the ire of two more nations with its proclamation on Wednesday that it had killed two hostages, a Chinese and a Norwegian.
ISIS' English-language Dabiq magazine featured on Wednesday graphic photos of two bodies that appeared to be Chinese hostage Fan Jinghui, 50, and Norwegian Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, 48.
Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday issued a statement in Manila, where he was attending an Asia-Pacific summit, saying "China strongly condemns the brutal murder of a Chinese national by ISIS".
Response from China's foreign ministry was even tougher, with its spokesman Hong Lei saying at a press briefing that "the criminals must be brought to justice".
Beijing had activated an emergency mechanism to try to rescue Mr Fan but he was killed nevertheless, China's official Xinhua news agency quoted the ministry as saying in an earlier statement.
It was the first time ISIS had killed a Chinese captive.
It was unclear when, where or how the two were killed but their heads were bloodied by apparent gunshot wounds, reported Agence France-Presse.
It was also not clear how Mr Fan, who once ran an advertisement company and then became a freelance consultant, had landed in Syria.
"It seems he wanted to see unusual places and this is probably why he ended up there," a source told Reuters.
China's news.now website said two months ago, ISIS had demanded a ransom for the two hostages which is normally set around 2 million euros (S$3 million).
The two were economic hostages, unlike political ones such as American James Foley and Japanese Kenji Goto, whose ransom was set at US$200 million (S$282.8 million), said the website.
Norwegian media said Mr Grimsgaard-Ofstad was a candidate for a master's in political science when he went missing in January in Syria.
According to his family, first, the thumb of his left hand and then all the fingers on his right were removed during his captivity, reported Norway's Dagbladet TV.
"We have no reason to doubt that the image was not that of Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad. It was such a brutal and despicable act," Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a press conference, referring to the killing.
The deaths came just days after 129 people were killed in Paris in attacks believed to be coordinated by ISIS and as Moscow launched fresh air raids against the group in Syria after confirming a Russian passenger jet that exploded over Egypt's Sinai peninsula last month had been sabotaged.
Dabiq had published a picture that ISIS claims to show the plane bomb, which was hidden in a soft-drink can, reported Bloomberg.
Since Sunday, Russian and French raids have struck arms depots, barracks and other areas in Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in northern Syria.
A preliminary death toll from a human rights group said 72 hours of strikes "had left 33 dead and dozens wounded in ISIS ranks".