This image made from a militant video posted on a social media site on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, purports to show a militant standing next to another man who identifies himself as 30-year-old Tomislav Salopek, kneeling down as he reads a message at an unknown location (Photo: AP)
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his visiting Croatian counterpart on Friday that Cairo is sparing no effort to protect a Croatian abducted by Islamic State militants who have set a deadline of less than one hour until they execute him if their demands are not met.
Sinai Province, Egypt's affiliate of the Islamic State group, published on the internet a digital clock with a countdown to the expiration of the ultimatum, which ended at 17:35 CLT.
A statement on the background reads: "A message to the Egyptian government: Release the [female] prisoners or the Sinai Province fighters will kill me."
"Egyptian authorities are making intensive efforts to try to identify the whereabouts of the hostage," a foreign ministry statement on Friday quoted Shoukry as saying.
Egypt "will spare no effort to protect the Croatian hostage," the statement added.
The father of Salopek urged the kidnappers on Thursday to release his 31-year-old son, a father of two.
"I am asking the people who hold my son to let him return to his family, because his motive to go to your homeland was exclusively to earn bread for his children. Nothing else," Zlatko Salopek told AFP.
In a video released online by the group Wednesday, Salopek appeared kneeling next to a masked fighter holding a knife.
As he read from a piece of paper, he said that his captors would execute him in 48 hours if Egyptian authorities did not release female prisoners.
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said she would talk to Egyptian President Abdel- Fattah El-Sisi by telephone to solve the issue.
"Rest assured that we can actually do everything in our power to resolve this," she was quoted by local Croatian media as telling reporters in the city of Split.
Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged allegiance to the IS group in November last year. The group has claimed responsibility for the deadliest attacks since the insurgency began two years ago.
The group claimed responsibility for a car bomb which targeted the Italian consulate in Cairo that killed one civilian in July, the first such attack against a foreign mission in the country.
Foreigners have largely been spared from the violence.