January 24, 2015 / 5:14 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. intelligence community working to verify reported killing of Japanese hostage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. intelligence community is working to confirm the authenticity of a recording that purports to announce the execution of a Japanese citizen held by Islamic State militants, the White House said on Saturday.

The audio message says that captive Haruna Yukawa has been killed. Islamic State has beheaded several foreign hostages, and in the past has issued videos showing the killings. Reuters could not independently confirm the audio message.

“The intelligence community is working to confirm its authenticity,” U.S. National Security Council deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement.

“The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s actions and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages,” Ventrell said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

“The United States is fully supportive of Japan in this matter. We stand in solidarity with Japan and are coordinating closely.”

Japan condemned the recording and demanded the immediate release of another captive depicted as appearing on the image.

Reporting by Matt Septalnick; Editing by Eric Beech and Frances Kerry

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