The Islamic State Group released a photo accompanied by an audio clip depicting the beheading of 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa on Saturday, Jan. 24.
It is unclear when Yukawa and 47-year-old Kenji Goto, another Japanese hostage, were captured by the Islamic State group. They were not reported missing until the Islamic State group posted a ransom video on Tuesday, Jan. 20, asking for $200 million by Friday, Jan. 23.
When the Japanese government did not deliver the ransom, Yukawa was beheaded, according to CNN.
The photo posted on Jan. 24 showed Goto kneeling beside Yukawa’s corpse. Goto’s well-being remains unclear, NBC reported.
According to The Guardian, the audio track accompanying the photo featured Goto pleading for the Japanese government to cooperate with the Islamic State group in exchange for his release. The audio was immediately taken off of the Internet. However, the Guardian reported militants have since denied its authenticity on Islamic State group-affiliated websites.
Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, said he believes the video is legitimate, and that Yukawa is dead. No further news has been released about the status of the remaining hostage. However, there have been a number of new developments regarding the negotiation for his freedom.
Originally, the terrorist regime was demanding $200 million for the release of Yukawa and Goto. Recently, though, the Islamic State group has been demanding a prisoner exchange, the release of Goto for Sajida al-Rishawi, according to The Guardian.
Rishawi was captured in 2005 after she and her husband were sent on an al-Qaida suicide-bombing mission. According to ABC, the couple attacked an Iraqi wedding, killing over 57 people. Rishawi’s suicide belt had a malfunction, however, and could not detonate. Rishawi was later captured by authorities. She is currently being held in custody by the Jordanian government.
Meanwhile, international efforts to weaken the Islamic State group continue. Stuart Jones, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, told Al Arabiya, a Saudi news agency, “We estimate that the airstrikes have now killed more than 6,000 fighters in Syria and Iraq.” He added that the American military has also destroyed more than 1,000 of the Islamic State group vehicles.
Al Arabiya reported that the airstrikes helped Kurdish resistance forces in northern Iraq remove the Islamic State group militants from approximately 500 square kilometers of territory, as well as severing an essential the Islamic State group supply line between the captured city of Mosul and west Syrian strongholds.
The United States is continuing its efforts to destroy the Islamic State group, as Secretary of State John Kerry went to London last week to try and strengthen the international coalition against the regime. Al Arabiya reported that the coalition now has more than 60 members, and Kerry has stressed his commitment to weakening the Islamic State group.
Editor’s Note: Information from NBC, ABC, CNN, The Guardian and Al Arabiya was used in this report.