The search for kidnapped Tomislav Salopek continues.
Minister of foreign affairs Vesna Pusić, after a series of talks including with the Egyptian foreign minister, has returned late Friday to Croatia from Egypt. “The Croatian government and the Ministry continue to work to resolve the case of the kidnapped Croatian citizen. Because of the sensitivity of the situation, at this moment we cannot disclose additional information”, said the Ministry in a statement, reports Novi List on August 8 2015.
Tomislav Salopek, an employee of a French company, was kidnapped in the area of Cairo. On Wednesday afternoon, the Islamic State released footage of Salopek kneeling in the desert with a masked man with a knife in his hand. He read a statement from a sheet of paper that the kidnappers will execute him within 48 hours if the Egyptian government does not release arrested Muslims. It is not clear when the countdown began, but the speculation is that the deadline expired at 17.30 CET on Friday.
Egyptian security services are searching for Salopek after the expiration of the ultimatum. The Egyptian media are reporting that there is a possibility to extend the ultimatum for 48 hours. Salopek’s wife traveled mid-week to Cairo together with minister Pusić who is trying to help in his release. On Friday, president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović spoke by phone with her Egyptian counterpart al-Sisi. Grabar-Kitarović has not disclosed to the media the details of that conversation.
Experts for Islamist groups have assessed that the kidnapping had several objectives. The first was to create a crisis between Egypt and other countries, while the second was to cast a shadow over the lavish inauguration ceremony of the new route of the Suez Canal on Thursday. It is a process designed “to spoil the opening of the new Suez Canal, since the channel confirms the legitimacy of the current regime in Egypt, and presents its economic power to the world”, said Kamal Habib, an expert on Islamist groups. He added that the new Suez Canal “unites people under the current political leadership.”
Experts stated that the Egyptian security services had launched a search for the location where the kidnappers hold the hostage. It is predicted that neither Egypt nor Croatia will negotiate with the Islamic State. “I expect that they will remain firm in their position against terrorism and that there will be no hesitation by the Croatian or the Egyptian government.”
Salopek’s father on Thursday appealed to the kidnappers to release his son. “To the people who kidnapped my son, I ask them to release him and to return him to his family. His motive for going to your country was only to earn bread for his children. Nothing else”, said Zlatko Salopek.