The Islamic State group has released ransom notices for two new hostages, one for a Chinese citizen who is reportedly a freelance contractor from China’s capital of Beijing and another for a man from Norway.
Norway’s prime minister, Erna Soldberg, has already confirmed that the Norwegian man is being held hostage in Syria. She told reporters late Wednesday that “everything indicates” that the Islamic State is responsible. Soldberg said the man — Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, a 48-year old from Oslo — was captured near the end of January.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei voiced the government's strong condemnation of acts of violence that target innocent civilians, but said that authorities were still trying to confirm the details of the alleged kidnapping.
The Chinese Embassy in Iraq has also told state media that it had no information on the alleged abduction of the man, who is said to be Fan Jinghui. Fan is said to be 50 years of age and is believe to be the first Chinese national held for ransom by the Islamic State.
The Islamic State made public its abduction by posting posters of both men at the back of the latest edition of the group’s online magazine Dabiq. Both men were dressed in yellow suits and below their pictures were the words “Norwegian Prisoner for Sale” and “Chinese Prisoner for Sale.”
A telegram number was also listed on the posters, urging the payment of a ransom for the prisoners release and transfer. The Norwegian government has said that it will not give in to pressure from terrorists and criminals and that it would not a pay a ransom.
In the posters, the group listed the names of both the men, their date of birth and home addresses. According to Chinese media reports, the address that was used for Fan appears to match that of a company that records show he owned. Fan worked in the advertising industry. A man who says he was a former classmate has released pictures of Fan, but there are still few details about his family.
China has long maintained a stance of non-interference in foreign country’s internal disputes and has applied that policy in Syria. Beijing has not joined the U.S.-led efforts against the Islamic State. It also joined Russia in vetoing a U.N. resolution referring the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court.