Iraqi militants killed second US hostage

Militants linked to wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi say they have killed another American hostage, after a deadline passed on their demand for the release of all female prisoners in two Iraqi jails.

Arabic channel &to=http://' target=_blank>Al-Jazeera cited a message on an Islamist website saying American Jack Hensley had been killed and that a video of the murder would follow soon. The authenticity of the message could not immediately be confirmed, says Voice of America.

According to the New Zealand Herald, there was no immediate word of the fate of a Briton also being held by the Tawhid and &to=http://' target=_blank>Jihad group which on Monday said it had beheaded the first of three contractors seized last week.

Al Jazeera television said a statement announcing the killing of fellow American Jack Hensley, 48, was on the internet. On one Islamist site, a contributor who has in the past posted messages in the name of the group said he was dead.

"The sons of our nation have slit the throat of the second American hostage after the deadline passed and we will provide you with pictures soon," said the contributor, who goes by the pseudonym Abu Maysarah al-Iraqi.

The new posting came hours after &to=http://' target=_blank>President Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq, telling a subdued U.N. General Assembly session that the war launched in 2003 without U.N. approval delivered the Iraqi people from "an outlawed dictator."

Bush told Allawi, "We will not allow these thugs and terrorists to decide your fate and to decide our fate."

Allawi said: "The barbaric action of yesterday is really unbelievable."

Al-Zarqawi, standing alongside four other masked militants clad in black, personally cut off Armstrong's head, the CIA confirmed after analyzing his voice on the footage.

Earlier Tuesday, Hensley's family in Georgia appealed to his captors to open lines of communication with them and spare his life.

"He was just there doing a service for the Iraqi people including even his captors," Hensley's wife, Pati, told CNN. "I would plead with them to please realize this man does not deserve this fate." Bigley's family echoed her pleas.

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