CAIRO (Reuters) - An online video purportedly from Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate showed a Croatian hostage working for a French company who said the group would kill him in 48 hours if Muslim women in Egyptian jails were not freed.
Ardiseis Egypt, a unit of French firm CGG, which specializes in oil and gas geology, said on Wednesday one of its staff had been kidnapped on July 22 while traveling to Cairo.
“Ardiseis Egypt acknowledges that he is the hostage appearing on the video released today by the Sinai Province of Islamic State,” the company said in a statement.
In the video, titled “A message to the Egyptian government” and posted on online forums, a man is seen kneeling and wearing a short-sleeved orange jumpsuit, like those worn by previous Western prisoners in Islamic State videos who were later killed.
He identified himself as Tomislav Salopek, 30, from Croatia. Zagreb said it was doing all it could to resolve the situation.
“Croatia’s Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic will, following consultations with her Egyptian counterpart, travel to Cairo,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said. No other details were given.
French President Francois Hollande flies to Cairo on Thursday for the inauguration of the New Suez Canal, a centerpiece of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s plans to revitalize Egypt’s economy. The Sinai Peninsula, flanking the canal, is the center of Islamist insurgency that began after the army toppled Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 amid mass protests against his rule.
Security forces have since cracked down on his supporters and other groups, killing hundreds in street protests and arresting thousands. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed in militant attacks, largely in the Sinai Peninsula.
Wednesday’s video would be the first known posting featuring a Western hostage held by Sinai Province, which changed its name from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis after it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist movement.
In the video, a masked militant in fatigues stands near Salopek, a knife visible in his hand. The black flag of Islamic State is propped up behind Salopek.
“The soldiers of Islamic State ... Wilayet Sinai, caught me on Wednesday, 22 July, 2015. They want to substitute me for the Muslim women arrested in Egyptian prisons. This matter has to be achieved before 48 hours from now. If not, the soldiers of Wilayet Sinai will kill me,” Salopek said, reading from a note against a desert backdrop.
Wilayet Sinai is the Arabic name for Sinai Province.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry did not comment on the video. Egypt’s military spokesman and the presidency could not be reached for comment.
Additional reporting by Andrew Callus and Geert De Clercq in Paris and Igor Ilic in Zagreb; Reporting by Cairo bureau; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by James Dalgleish