Prime minister demands release of surviving hostage

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe angrily demanded Sunday that the extremist Islamic State group release a Japanese journalist it is holding hostage after a new online video purported to show that another hostage had been killed.

While the Japanese government and others cast doubt on the authenticity of the video, President Obama issued a statement condemning what he called “the brutal murder” of one of the hostages. His statement did not say how the United States knows that Haruna Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer, is dead, and the Japanese government still was trying to verify the video.

Obama said in his statement that the United States will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Japan and called for the immediate release of the second Japanese hostage, journalist Kenji Goto. Obama’s statement was issued at Ramstein Air Base in Germany as the president was en route to India for a visit.

KIEV, Ukraine

Strategic port bombarded; at least 30 people killed

Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels.

Ukrainian officials rushed to defend the strategically important port on the Sea of Azov, beefing up military positions with more equipment and sending in more forces.

The separatists’ top leader declared that an offensive against Mariupol had begun – then later toned down his threats as the scale of the civilian casualties became clear.

ATHENS, Greece

Left-wing party gaining ground in Sunday’s election

Greece’s left-wing opposition Syriza party is leading the ruling New Democracy conservatives in the last nine polls published ahead of the country’s election Sunday.

Syriza’s lead varies from 2.8 percentage points to 6.7 points but is trending upward.

Syriza has alarmed markets by urging massive debt forgiveness and wanting bailout deals rewritten.

– From news service reports