Japanese officials said Saturday they were investigating a new online message purporting to be from the extremist group ISIS about the two Japanese hostages it holds.
The Japanese government said it was still trying to determine its veracity. The purported message claims that one of two Japanese hostages has been killed and demanded a prisoner exchange for the other. But the post was deleted quickly, and militants on a website affiliated with ISIS disagreed about the message's authenticity.
NBC News could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the terror group that now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq.
In a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said government ministers were holding an emergency meeting to investigate the video. "This kind of action is an outrageous and unforgivable act of violence and we strongly condemn it," Suga said.
The White House said in a statement that intelligence officials were "working to confirm" the video's authenticity. "The United States strongly condemns ISIL's (ISIS') actions and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages," said National Security Council Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell.
ISIS had released a video Tuesday showing hostages Haruna Yukawa and journalist Kenji Goto, and said they would be beheaded if the Japanese government didn't send a $200 million ransom by a 72-hour deadline.
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