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Video Shows Beheading of American Hostage in Iraq - 2004-09-20

Militants in Iraq have posted a video on the Internet showing the beheading of an American abducted in Baghdad last week.

In the video, a masked militant says wanted terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi personally executed the hostage. U.S. officials say the hostage's body has been recovered, but released no other details.

The militant also warns that the other American and a British national abducted along with the beheaded hostage will be executed in 24 hours unless coalition forces free all women prisoners in Iraq.

Separately, aides to a top Shi'ite cleric say 18 captive Iraqi soldiers were freed by kidnappers who had threatened to kill them. The kidnappers had demanded that Iraqi authorities free a recently arrested aide to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

In another development, two senior Iraqi Sunni Muslim clerics have been killed in separate attacks in predominantly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad.

A spokesman for the Committee of Muslim Scholars said one cleric was kidnapped Sunday outside a Sunni mosque. His body was later dumped at the scene of the abduction. The second victim was gunned down as he entered a Sunni mosque today (Monday) in the capital.

Meanwhile, Turkish news reports say gunmen opened fire today on a car carrying Turkish journalists and aid workers in the northern city of Mosul. All four occupants were wounded.

Elsewhere, U.S. warplanes struck targets in Fallujah. Hospital officials say at least two people were killed and three others wounded in the attack.

Separately, U.S. officials say an American soldier was killed today when his patrol came under attack 270 kilometers north of Baghdad near Ash Sharqat.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.