Concern is growing for the fate of a Croatian citizen kidnapped last month in Cairo by an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a deadline for his execution approaches.
Footage released on Wednesday showed Tomislav Salopek kneeling down in front of a fighter, reading a statement from the group demanding the release of female prisoners in Egyptian prisoners.
“I am thirty years old and I come from Croatia. They want to substitute me with Muslim women arrested in Egyptian prisons,” said Salopek, dressed in orange attire characteristic for ISIL hostages.
“This matter needs to be achieved within 48 hours. If not, the soldiers from Wilayat Sinai will kill me,”
Salopek, an employee of CGG, a French geophysical services company, was kidnapped on July 22 near Cairo on his way back to the city.
According to the Croatian government, it is the first case of a kidnapping of a Croatian citizen in a foreign country.
Egyptian authorities have imprisoned many Muslim women since 2013, accusing them of working for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned in the country.
Vesna Pusic, Croatia’s foreign minister, travelled to Cairo on Thursday to meet the Egyptian authorities.
The group holding Salopek was once known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, but changed its name to Sinai Province after swering allegiance to ISIL in November.
The group has also taken responsibility for an attack on the Italian consulate in Cairo last month.