Insurgents in Iraq linked to al-Qaida have posted a video on the Internet showing the mutilated bodies of two American soldiers who were kidnapped and murdered last month.
The U.S. military condemned the gruesome video, saying it demonstrates the "barbaric and brutal nature of the terrorists and their complete disregard for human life."
The videotape appeared Monday, with an accompanying message saying the soldiers were killed to avenge the rape and murder in March of an Iraqi girl in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad.
U.S. officials say there is no evidence to link the soldiers or their kidnapping to the rape case. The Americans were abducted on June 16 near the town of Yusufiya, also south of Baghdad during an ambush in which a third American also died.
The U.S. military has charged six American soldiers in the rape-murder case.
The two murdered men are believed to have been members of the same infantry platoon as the six men now charged in the rape case.
At the time of the ambush and kidnapping, there was no general knowledge in Iraq of any possible American involvement in the teenager's rape and murder, which took place more than three months earlier but had been attributed to Iraq's ongoing sectarian violence. The two soldiers were abducted last month two weeks before the U.S. military announced it was investigating the criminal assault on the girl and her family.
The video was released in the name of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an alliance of armed insurgent groups in Iraq with links to the al-Qaida network. An American group that monitors extremist Web sites, the SITE Institute, says the extremely graphic video is accompanied by audio excerpts of previous statements by fugitive terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7.