Iraq militants deny US marine has been killed


A militant group in Iraq has denied killing a kidnapped US marine. The denial was issued in a message posted on the website of the group known as the Army of Ansar al-Sunna.

The fate of Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, an American of Lebanese origin, was unclear after an earlier statement believed to be from the group said the soldeir had being beheaded.

"This statement that claimed to be from us has no basis in truth...and we have an official website through which we publish statements," the group said today, referring to a statement issued on two Islamist websites yesterdy in the name of Ansar which said the militant group had beheaded Corporal Hassoun.

Arabic television channel Al Jazeeralast Sunday aired a video tape of militants holding a blindfolded 24-year-old Hassoun with a sword poised over his head.

The militants warned they would carry on attacking Iraqi officials and US-led foreign forces, despite Washington's handover to an interim Iraqi government last Monday, until "God's law" prevailed in Iraq.

The US military has said Hassoun had been absent from his unit since June 21st. His Lebanese father had urged his son's captors to have mercy on him as a Muslim and an Arab.

The US military says Ansar al-Sunna could be one of a handful of groups carrying out attacks in Iraq. The group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings last February in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil that killed more than 100 people.