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£132m or hostages die, 'Jihadi John' warns Japanese

Iraq: Terror group Islamic State (IS) has released a new video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless a $200m (£132m) ransom is paid in the next 72 hours.

The footage issued yesterday shows a masked militant, believed to be the Briton known as 'Jihadi John', making the threat.

It comes three days after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged $200m (£132m) in non-military assistance for countries battling IS in Iraq and Syria.

In the video, the speaker says the two hostages are under threat as a result of Japan's support of Western military actions against IS.

Brandishing a knife and dressed all in black, the militant says: "To the Prime Minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometers (5,280 miles) from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade.

"You have proudly donated $100m (£66m) to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims, so the life of this Japanese citizen will cost you $100m.

"And in an attempt to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, you have also donated another $100m to train the murtadeen (apostates) against the mujahideen, and so the life of this Japanese citizen will cost you another $100m.

"And to the Japanese public: Just as how your government has made the foolish decision to pay $200m to fight the Islamic State, you now have 72 hours to pressure your government in making a wise decision, by paying the $200m to save the lives of your citizens. Otherwise, this knife will become your nightmare."

The hostages - identified as Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa - appear in the same orange jumpsuits as those worn by captives in previous IS videos.

The clip is filmed in a desert location.

Mr Abe described the threat as "unforgiveable" and demanded that IS immediately release the men.

He added: "I feel strong resentment."

The Foreign Office confirmed that it is aware of the video footage and is "studying the content".

Jihadi John has appeared in a number of previous videos in which hostages were both threatened and killed by being decapitated.

AirAsia plane ‘was climbing like fighter jet’ before crash

Indonesia: An AirAsia plane that crashed last month with 162 people on board was climbing at an abnormally high rate, then plunged and suddenly disappeared from radar, Indonesia’s transport minister has said.

Ignasius Jonan told the Indonesian parliament that radar data showed the Airbus A320 was climbing at about 6,000ft (1.82km) a minute before it disappeared on December 28.

“It is not normal to climb like that, it’s very rare for commercial planes, which normally climb just 1,000 to 2,000ft (305m to 610m) per minute,” he said. “It can only be done by a fighter jet.”

He said the plane then plunged and disappeared from radar. Mr Jonan did not say what caused the plane to climb so rapidly. The plane’s black boxes have been recovered but are still being analysed.

Thousands flee after border attacks

Cameroon: More than 10,000 people are fleeing border regions with Nigeria’s Borno state after attacks by Islamic militant group Boko Haram, officials said.

Boko Haram has, in the past month, raided at least two-dozen villages and towns in northern Cameroon. The group also kidnapped dozens of people during an attack on Mabass village on Sunday. The insurgents are looting food and livestock, and a humanitarian and food crisis looms, one Cameroon minister said.

Students and teachers are among those who have fled their homes.

More than 10 schools were deserted after attacks on Sunday, adding to the about 140 schools that have shut their doors because of the insurgency bleeding over into Cameroon, said the minister of education, Monouna Fotso.

Five Chechens held in terror sweep

France: Five ethnic Chechens from Russia have been arrested, including one with a cache of explosives, as four other men appeared at a court over the Paris terror attacks.

France has been on high alert since three days of terror left 20 people dead in Paris, including the three gunmen, earlier this month.

The report of the arrests came as France’s Prime Minister urged his nation to do some soul-searching about the country’s deep ethnic divisions.

Beziers mayor Robert Menard confirmed the five arrests in Beziers and on the outskirts of Montpellier. He said the man arrested in Beziers had been a resident “for some time”.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said the four men in court were suspected of providing logistical support to Amedy Coulibaly, one of the terrorists killed by police, and requested the men be detained longer on weapons and terrorism charges.

Jetpack inventor who left US in his wake dies at 81

Romania: An inventor who claimed he beat the Americans to make the world’s first jetpack has died aged 81. A hospital in the city of Ploiesti said Justin Capra died yesterday evening. The cause of death was not given but Mr Capra had diabetes.

Mr Capra began inventing gadgets in childhood and graduated as an engineer. In 1956, under communism, Mr Capra invented the “flying rucksack”, a personal flying machine.

In 1962 one was produced in the US by Bell Aircraft. “All that was different was the colour,” Mr Capra insisted in an interview.

Conservationists earn their stripes as tiger numbers up

India: The latest tiger census shows a sharp increase in the number of endangered cats in the wild, raising hopes that conservation efforts are working.

The census carried out in 2014 counted at least 2,226 tigers in forests across the country — around 500 more than were counted four years ago.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar described the figures as a huge success story and said it was the result of sustained conservation efforts in tiger reserves across the country.

Tigers have been threatened by rampant poaching and shrinking habitats from deforestation due to power projects, roads and human settlements.

Mr Javadekar said more than 9,700 cameras were used to count the big cats accurately.

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