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ISIS ‘beheads’ second Japanese captive

‘After an extensive review, we believe it’s highly probable’ the video is real, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said

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The Japanese government said on Sunday it was “highly probable” that an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) video, which purports the beheading of a second Japanese hostage, was authentic.

“After an extensive review, we believe it’s highly probable” the video is real, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, according to Agence France-Presse.

When asked if the man in the video was 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, Suga replied: “We think so.”

Earlier on Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the “heinous murder” of a Japanese hostage following the release of the video.

“The United States condemns the heinous murder of Japanese citizen and journalist Kenji Goto by the terrorist group ISIL,” Obama said in a statement.

Following news of the video, Goto’s mother said she “can’t find the words” to describe the death of her son.

“It’s deplorable, but Kenji is gone,” Goto’s sobbing mother, Junko Ishido, told reporters at her home in a Tokyo suburb.

“I can’t find the words to describe how I feel about my son’s very sad death.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government had put high priority on seeking the release of Goto, a veteran war correspondent captured by the militants in late October when he went to Syria seeking the release of another Japanese captive, Haruna Yukawa.

Yasuhide Nakayama, Japan’s deputy foreign minister, had said negotiations with the militant group were “deadlocked,” local media reported on Saturday.

Last week, a video appeared in which Goto and Haruna Yukawa, a self-described contractor, were seen kneeling in the desert.

A masked, knife-wielding militant said Tokyo had 72 hours to pay a $200 million (175 million-euro) ransom if it wanted to spare their lives.

When that deadline expired, new pictures appeared to show Yukawa had been beheaded.

ISIS has executed several foreigners, mostly Westerners, in the past. The group seeks the establishment of a so-called

“Islamic Caliphate” in Syrian and Iraqi territories it maintained. A U.S.-led coalition is targeting the Islamist militants using air strikes in Syria and Iraq.