Headless body found in Baghdad

Iraqi police have found the headless body of an Asian man in Baghdad and Iraq's Interior Ministry says it could be that of a kidnapped Japanese backpacker.

"There is a possibility that this is the body of the Japanese &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/ 21/93/375/12524_hostage.html ' target=_blank>hostage, but it has yet to be identified," a ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said it was looking into the report. "We are trying to find out the facts," an official said.

Confusion has surrounded the fate of Shosei Koda since Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's militant group said on Tuesday it would behead the 24-year-old within 48 hours unless &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/01/18/42225.html ' target=_blank>Japan pulled its troops out of Iraq, a demand swiftly rejected by Tokyo, informs SwissInfo.

A news agency pool video obtained in Baghdad showed the corpse in a white blood-soaked shirt and the severed head of a Japanese-looking man with a thin beard on top.

A person can then be seen lifting the head up by its long black hair and holding it up to the camera.

The face closely resembled Koda, who appeared on another video on Tuesday seated in front of three masked men.

That video, posted on a Web site often used by militants clearly showed Koda, also with long hair and a thin beard, reports Reuters.

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