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Bulgarian Hostage Killed In Iraq

14 July 2004 -- A Bulgarian hostage has been executed in Iraq, while the Philippines says it has begun withdrawing its small peacekeeping contingent to meet the demand of Iraqi militants who are threatening to kill a Filipino.

The Bulgarian truck driver was reported early today to have been killed by militants led by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked operative Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi.

Al-Jazeera television said the group has threatened to execute a second Bulgarian hostage within 24 hours unless the United States military releases all Iraqi detainees.

In Manila, a Philippines government statement said the number of Filipino troops in Iraq has so far been reduced from 51 to 43.

The United States has expressed disappointment with the Philippines over the early withdrawal, saying it was sending the wrong signal to terrorists.


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