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"Asian" body identified as Iraqi-medical
Updated: 2004-10-30 16:54

A body initially thought to resemble that of a Japanese backpacker kidnapped in Iraq has been identified as that of an Iraqi, a hospital official in Tikrit said on Saturday.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the beheaded man was an Iraqi driver who was kidnapped three days ago. The body was discovered near the village of al-Dawr, 20 km (13 miles) southeast of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town.

The official, contacted by telephone from Samarra, said U.S. troops had taken the corpse away on Friday and returned it to the main hospital morgue in Tikrit later in the day. The man's family then collected it for burial.

A U.S. military spokeswoman confirmed that the body had been identified as an Iraqi and was no longer in U.S. custody.

There has been no word on the fate of 24-year-old Shosei Koda since militants led by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi threatened on Tuesday to decapitate him within 48 hours if Japan did not withdraw its troops from Iraq.

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