Website says British Iraq hostage executed but London dismissive

Wext: Monday, 27.September. @ 00:00:00 CEST


25. Sep. 2004, DUBAI ( AFP ) - A website, which this week published a second unsubstantiated claim that two Italian aid workers held hostage in Iraqhad been executed, reported that British captive Kenneth Bigley had been killed.

But the British government swiftly dismissed the announcement.

"Tawhid wal Jihad (Unity and Holy War) announces the execution of the Briton and gives the good news of the kidnapping of seven British soldiers," said a brief statement on the website

It said that a "cassette" would soon be made available.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

The official site of the Unity and Holy War group, headed by suspected Al-Qaeda operative Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, and other Islamist websites used by Zarqawi's group did not immediately carry any news on Bigley.

In London, the Foreign Office said it did not take the claim seriously.

"We are aware of the site called Alezah which is running that story, but it is a discredited website. We don't think it is to be taken seriously at this point," a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP.

The 62-year-old Bigley was snatched September 16 along with two American colleagues who have since been executed.

He has not been seen since he appeared in a fuzzy video Wednesday on an Internet site, in which he appealed directly to Prime Minister Tony Blairto intervene.

On Thursday, the Alezah website carried a statement from a second group that claimed to have beheaded two women Italian aid workers held hostage in Iraq.

"The heads of the two Italian criminals, Italian intelligence agents Simona Terretta and Simona Pari, were mercilessly cut off with a knife," said the latest statement attributed to a group calling itself Ansar al-Zawahiri.

Earlier, another statement on the Internet that appeared Wednesday night from a group calling itself the Jihad Organisation claimed it had "slaughtered" the two women.

Pari and Torretta, both 29, were kidnapped from their offices in the Iraqi capital on September 7.

Source: AP

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