The latest from AP:
TOKYO – A Japanese civilian taken hostage in Iraq by militants has been killed, Kyodo News agency reported Saturday, citing a member of Japan’s ruling party. But national broadcaster NHK said the government was still trying to confirm the information.
Government officials could not be reached early Saturday to comment on the report.
Islamic militants threatened on Tuesday to behead hostage 24-year-old Shosei Koda within 48 hours unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi firmly rejected that demand, saying he would not give in to terrorists.
Kyodo said a body found near the city of Tikrit had been identified as Koda.
However, the Iraqi Interior Ministry had dismissed an earlier report that the body of an Asian man was found near Tikrit. The ministry said the body was that of an Iraqi man.
It was unclear whether the new Kyodo report referred to a new identification of the same body or a second body found in Tikrit.