BAGHDAD - Iraqi militants killed an American soldier they have held hostage for nearly three months, saying the killing was because the U.S. government did not change its policy in Iraq, Al-Jazeera television reported Tuesday.
News of the killing of Spc. Keith M. Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio, came hours after the United States returned sovereignty in Iraq to an interim government. The report did not say when Maupin was killed.
Maupin was captured during an ambush on a convoy west of Baghdad on April 9.
The Arab satellite station aired video showing a blindfolded man sitting on the ground. Al-Jazeera said that in the next scene, gunmen shoot the man in the back of the head, in front of a hole dug in the ground. It did not show the killing.
Maj. Willie Harris, public affairs spokesman for the Army's 88th Regional Readiness Command, said the videotape is being analyzed by the Department of Defense.
"There is no confirmation at this time, that the tape contains footage of Matt Maupin or any other Army soldier," he said, adding that the Maupin family was briefed "as to the existence of a videotape."
Al-Jazeera said a statement was issued with the video in the name of a group calling itself "The Sharp Sword against the Enemies of God and His Prophet." In the statement, the militants said they killed the soldier because the United States did not change its policies in Iraq and to avenge "martyrs" in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
Maupin was among nine Americans, seven of them contractors, who disappeared after the April 9 attack.
The bodies of four civilian employees of Kellogg Brown _ Root - a subsidiary of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton - were later found in a shallow grave near the site of the attack. The body of Sgt. Elmer Krause was later found.
One civilian driver, Thomas Hamill was kidnapped but escaped from his captors nearly a month later. The others are missing.
Maupin was promoted in absentia on May 1 from private first class to the rank of specialist, said Maj. Mark Magalski, a spokesman for the 633rd QM Ballation, based in Cincinnati.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now