Father of Croatian abducted in Egypt calls for son's release
The father of Tomislav Salopek, a Croatian national who was abducted in Cairo and has been threatened with execution by the Islamic State group, on Thursday urged the kidnappers to release his son.
"I am asking the people who hold my son to let him return to his family, because his motive to go to your homeland was exclusively to earn bread for his children. Nothing else," Zlatko Salopek told AFP at the family's home in the eastern Croatian town of Vrpolje.
In a video released on Wednesday, a man identifying himself as Tomislav Salopek, working in Egypt for French geoscience company CGG, read from a sheet of paper that he would be executed within 48 hours if Egypt's government failed to release Muslim women held in prisons.
Salopek, wearing an orange jumpsuit, did not say when the countdown began.
The 31-year-old father-of-two said he was kidnapped on July 22 by the Sinai Province group, IS's Egyptian affiliate based in the Sinai Peninsula.
He is believed to be the first foreigner to be abducted and threatened with death by militants in Egypt since the Islamist insurgency broke out after the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi two years ago.
In July, IS said it was behind a car bomb attack targeting the Italian consulate in Cairo -- the first such attack against a foreign mission in Egypt since jihadists began their campaign following the crackdown on Islamists.
In February, IS released a video showing the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptians, in neighbouring Libya.
That massacre prompted air strikes by Cairo targeting IS in Libya.
The threat to execute Salopek came ahead of Thursday's inauguration of the "new" Suez Canal in the port city of Ismailiya.
Security was tight at the lavish ceremony, attended by heads of state including French President Francois Hollande.
The hostage's father said that as his son was working for a French company, he was also looking to Hollande and the French authorities for help in securing his release.
"I thank France for what has been done so far and ask them to cooperate with Egyptian authorities to save my son," he said.
Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic left for Cairo earlier on Thursday following consultations with her Egyptian counterpart.
The Croatian government has said it was doing its best "to solve as soon as possible the difficult situation".
© 2015 AFP