Isis-linked 'countdown clock' reaches zero as 72-hour deadline to save hostages expires

Posting reportedly carried warning 'the countdown has begun'

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The Independent Online

A countdown clock allegedly posted by militants associated with Isis online has reached zero after a 72-hour ransom deadline expired, it has been reported.

The posting, which appeared on Friday, was initially posted with the warning: "the countdown has begun" along with gruesome images of other hostages who have been beheaded by the group, according to the Associated Press.

The website it was posted on has at times been among the first to host videos released by Isis, AP reports. It said Nippon Television Network first reported the message in Japan.

The post did not include any images of the Japanese hostages.

A video emerged on Tuesday showing a black-clad militant wielding a knife and threatening to execute Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa if the Japanese Government did not pay a $200 million (£132m) ransom within 72 hours.

Tokyo believes the deadline expired at 5.50am GMT on Friday, according to AFP.

Junko Ishido, the mother of 47-year-old journalist Mr Goto, made a tearful appeal on behalf of her son as the ransom deadline demanded by Isis for him and Mr Yukawa drew closer.