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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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Jordan vows to secure release of pilot after ISIS beheads Japanese hostage

Fighter pilot al-Kasasbeh, was captured when his F-16 crashed in December

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AMMAN, Jordan - Jordan has vowed to do everything it can to secure the release of a fighter pilot captured by ISIS militants, after a video was released purporting to show the beheading of a Japanese hostage.

The apparent killing of a second Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto, has seen the Jordanian government facing renewed pressure from Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh's family and the public. Jordan on Sunday echoed Japan in strongly condemning the murder of Kenji Goto.

Fighter pilot al-Kasasbeh, was captured when his F-16 crashed in December on a mission to support the US-led, anti-ISIS military coalition.

Jordan has indicated that it is willing to exchange an Iraqi prisoner for his safe return.

The government was doing "everything it can to save the life and secure the release of its pilot" government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni told the official Petra news agency.

"All state organisations have been mobilised to secure the proof of life that we require so that he can be freed and returned to his home," said al-Momeni.

Al-Momeni also said that Jordan had "spared no effort, in coordination with the Japanese government" to save the life of Goto, but some media reports have suggested that Jordan's demand for the release of both Goto and al-Kasasbeh in return for the Iraqi prisoner may have complicated the negotiations.

Relatives of Lt Kasasbeh urged the government Sunday to do more for him and provide more information to them.

"We want the government to tell us the truth," said Yassin Rawashda, an uncle of the pilot.

His father, Safi, told Associated Press: "This is my son. I'm always concerned about him and any development makes me more concerned."

The latest video showing the beheading of Goto made no mention of Lt Kasasbeh.

The first IS demand, last week, had been for US $200-million in return for two Japanese hostages - Goto and Haruna Yukawa.

After a 72-hour deadline passed, ISIS said it had beheaded Yukawa. It then demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, on death row in Jordan for her role in hotel bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people.

A Thursday sunset deadline was given for a deal under which Goto would be freed in return for Rishawi. However, Jordan demanded that Lt Kasasbeh also be released and called for proof he was still alive.

The video showing the apparent beheading of Goto has forced Jordan to back down and offer on Sunday of an exchange for Rishawi.

Kenji Goto was 47 and a respected journalist known for his work covering the suffering of civilians in war zones. He went to Syria in October, reportedly to try to secure Yukawa's release.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday said he "would not give in to terrorism" and that he would expand his support to countries fighting ISIS.

Abe called the killing of Goto and Yukawa a "heinous act", adding that Japan would work with the international community to bring those responsible for their apparent murder to justice.

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