It appears that one of the Bulgarian hostages has been killed, perhaps beheaded. A video will no doubt become available on the Internet soon, as will graphics pictures, Nick Berg all over again. Here is the BBC report:
Arab satellite television channel al-Jazeera said the captors threatened to kill a second Bulgarian within the next 24 hours.
The Bulgarian government confirmed one of its nationals had been killed.
Al-Jazeera said it received a video of the killing purportedly by the al-Tahid and Jihad Group, but decided not to broadcast the graphic sections.
The video showed one of the Bulgarians – wearing an orange garment similar to those worn by other hostages before they were killed – kneeling in front of three masked men dressed in black.
The Bulgarian authorities had identified the two hostages as Ivaylo Kepov and Georgi Lazov.
The truck drivers were kidnapped while travelling from Bulgaria to Mosul in northern Iraq. They had been due to arrive on 29 June.
“We have confirmation that (the killing) involves one of the two Bulgarian hostages. We do not yet have information about which one of the two it is,” government spokesman Dimitar Tsonev told AFP news agency.
“All Bulgarian institutions have done everything possible. Now all we can do for the next 24 hours is to pray for the life of the second Bulgarian hostage,” he said.
A videotape was broadcast last week showing masked men behind two prisoners, believed to be the Bulgarians, squatting and handcuffed.
Bulgaria sent diplomats to Iraq to try and negotiate the men’s freedom, but had vowed it would not change its policy on sending troops to the country.
It currently has a 485-member battalion in Iraq, which serves alongside Ukrainian troops under Polish command.
Al-Tahid and Jihad Group is believed to be headed by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected ally of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.
The group has claimed responsibility for the beheading of US businessman Nick Berg and South Korean translator Kim Sun-il.