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Kidnapped Marine reportedly beheaded

July 3, 2004 at 7:13 PM

BAGHDAD, July 3 (UPI) -- U.S. officials said Saturday they were checking reports that a kidnapped marine in Iraq was beheaded by a group believed to be linked to al-Qaida.

The announcement of the alleged death of Wassef Ali Hassoun, an American citizen of Lebanese descent, was posted on an Islamic website Saturday, the BBC reported. The group, Ansar al-Sunna, said there would be a video showing the beheading.

Hassoun's captors threatened in a videotape broadcast to kill him unless all Iraqi prisoners held by the Coalition were released. If Hassoun's death is confirmed, he would be the third hostage to have been beheaded by militants in Iraq.

Last month, a South Korean translator, Kim Sun-il, was executed by his captors after Seoul rejected their demands for the withdrawal of South Korean troops from Iraq. American national Nick Berg was beheaded in May by militants who said they were avenging the prisoners abused by U.S. forces in Iraq.

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