BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A decapitated body wrapped in an American flag and found in an insurgent-controlled section of Baghdad was that of a Japanese man kidnapped by Islamic militants, a Japanese official said Sunday.

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said in Tokyo that the government confirmed that the body found Saturday was that of Shosei Koda, 24.

An al-Qaida-linked group led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi showed Koda, a backpacker, on a video posted on a militant Web site Tuesday.

The group vowed to behead Koda within 48 hours unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi quickly rejected that demand, saying he would not give in to terrorists.

Japanese Embassy officials in Baghdad sent fingerprints of the body to the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, and police experts there positively identified the body as Koda’s, Machimura said.

“It is to our great sorrow that after putting all our efforts into securing his release he has become a victim of terrorism,” Machimura said.

“We cannot allow this kind of action. Japan, in cooperation with the international community …, must continue the battle against terrorism.”

Hours after Koda’s body was found Saturday, a Polish woman being held by militants pleaded for her life and asked Poland to remove its troops from Iraq in a video aired by Al-Jazeera television. Teresa Borcz Khalifa, a 54-year-old with dual Polish-Iraqi citizenship, was wearing a black top and sitting in front of a banner with the militant group’s name, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Fundamentalist Brigades.

“Once again I call on you to help me, by saving my life,” she said. “My life is in great danger. The one thing that will save my life is any response to the Iraqis’ demands: by first getting the Polish troops out of Iraq and second, giving any help to release the female Iraqi prisoners from the various American prisons in Iraq.”

Poland commands about 6,000 troops from 15 nations – including some 2,400 from Poland – in central Iraq. The Warsaw government has ruled out any possibility of negotiations or a pullout from Iraq.

Iraq civil defense officials said they were alerted to Koda’s corpse Saturday in the fields off Haifa Street, a Baghdad neighborhood largely controlled by insurgents. Authorities retrieved it from the area and transported it to a hospital.

Associated Press Television News videotape showed the severed head with the hostage’s long black hair and features.

Policeman Yassin Hashim, who examined the body, said it was dressed in jeans, a beige shirt, and black underwear. The body’s hands and legs had been bound with white rope, he said, adding that he believed the death occurred recently.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said Koda entered Iraq on Oct. 21 and was last seen two days later at a Baghdad bus terminal, where he tried to catch a bus back to Jordan.

The ordeal was excruciating for Koda’s family, which pleaded for his life on Arabic TV and through international media throughout the week, saying their son – who was traveling as a tourist – had no political intentions in Iraq and was simply curious.

There was no movement from the family’s home Sunday in southern Japan.

In a new abduction, a Sudanese interpreter working for a U.S. contractor in Ramadi appeared Saturday on an Arabic television station, saying he was kidnapped by a group demanding his employer, Titan Corp., leave Iraq. Titan Corp., based in San Diego, is the largest provider of translators to the U.S. government.

Noureddin Zakaria, who was surrounded by armed men, said on a tape broadcast by Al-Arabiya television he was kidnapped during a military operation in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad.

“I hope and call on the company to stop its operations in Iraq to guarantee my release,” he said, shown in front of a banner emblazoned with the name of the group that abducted him, The National Islamic Resistance, the 1920 Revolution Brigades. The 1920 Revolution refers to the uprising against British military occupation, which historians consider the birth of Iraqi nationalism.

Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 160 foreigners in their campaign to drive out coalition forces and hamper reconstruction. At least 33 – including three Americans and a Briton – have been killed.



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