Video shows beheading of hostage Kenneth Bigley

 

Ken Bigley pictured in the video on September 29th
Ken Bigley pictured in the video on September 29th

A video released by Muslim militants this afternoon has shown them beheading British hostage Kenneth Bigley in Iraq.

Mr Bigley, who was given an Irish passport on Tuesday, was shown speaking as six militants stood behind him. One read a statement and then cut his head off with a knife.

Sources in the rebel-held city of Fallujah said earlier that Mr Bigley was killed yesterday afternoon in Latifiya, a Sunni Muslim town southwest of Baghdad.

The tape showed Bigley in an orange jump suit of the type worn by detainees in US prisons including the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Mr. Bigley's brother Paul said today that Prime Minister Blair now had "blood on his hands" but in another statement from the family, brother Phil said the government had done all it could to try and release him.

The engineer (62), whose mother is from Ticknock in Dublin, was kidnapped on September 16th from a Baghdad house along with two Americans who were beheaded soon after the abductions by militants led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

A flag from Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group was hung above the militants at Mr Bigley's beheading.

After Mr Bigley spoke, one of the militants read a statement saying British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair had failed to meet the group's demand for the release of women prisoners from US jails in Iraq.

Mr Blair's government said it would not negotiate with kidnappers.

The militant in the tape also called for Muslims to keep waging Jihad against "infidels" in Iraq. The tape, which has been broadcast on the internet, was initially sent to Abu Dhabi TV that announced it had "made an editorial decision not to show" it.

It said the station would not "serve as a mouthpiece for such groups or their actions."

In a televised statement this evening, Mr Bigley's brother Phil said this evening that the family had now received "absolute proof" that Kenneth Bigley had been executed. He asked the media to respect the family's privacy and said Mr Bigley's mother had said she would remain strong for the family. He also thanked all those who had prayed for his brother.

Mr Bigley was last seen on an Internet video nine days ago on September 29th. He was shown crouching in a cage in chains, pleading with British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair to save his life.

Earlier this week, Mr Bigley was granted an Irish passport in an effort to secure his release. A number of Irish politicians appealed for Mr Bigley's release, including Mr Michael D. Higgins, Mr Gerry Adams, the Taoiseach, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it no statement to make as yet and was checking the reports of Mr Bigley's death.

In his hometown of Liverpool, police closed off the street where his family lives while photographers and journalists gathered outside. Mr Bigley's wife is being consoled by family in Bangkok, Thailand.

Insurgents and criminals have kidnapped at least 140 foreigners of many nationalities since April. Many have been released, but least 30 have been killed, some beheaded.

Additional reporting Agencies