US hostage 'shot dead by captors'

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The Independent Online

The Arab television station al-Jazeera said last night it had video footage showing the killing of a US soldier who had been taken hostage by Iraqi militants more than six weeks ago. The footage reportedly shows the soldier being shot in the back of the head.

The Arab television station al-Jazeera said last night it had video footage showing the killing of a US soldier who had been taken hostage by Iraqi militants more than six weeks ago. The footage reportedly shows the soldier being shot in the back of the head.

The Pentagon said it could not confirm his death but said it had notified the family of Keith Maupin, of Ohio, it was being reported that he had been killed. "We have not found the young man. He is still listed as captured," an official said.

Mr Maupin, 20, was taken hostage along with seven other Americans on 9 April after a US convoy was attacked west of Baghdad. The bodies of four men were found in a shallow grave and that of another soon afterwards. A civilian driver, Thomas Hamill of Mississippi, escaped nearly a month later. The other man is still missing.

Al-Jazeera quoted a previously unknown group, The Sharp Sword against the Enemies of God and His Prophet, as saying it had killed the soldier because of US policy in Iraq and in revenge for its "martyrs" in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

If confirmed, the execution will be the latest of foreigners in Iraq. Militants are holding hostage Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, who was reported missing from his unit on 21 June. A Pakistani driver is also missing. In addition five Turkish workers are being held.

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