Iraqi militants kill S Korean hostage

South Korean officials confirmed late on Tuesday that the body of Kim Sun-il, a 33-year-old translator, had been found west of Baghdad.

A terrified Kim had been shown pleading for his life in video footage released on Sunday.

His captors had threatened to kill him if Seoul did not drop its plan to send 3,000 troops to Iraq.

News of his death was reported on the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera station and was later confirmed by South Korean officials.

“It breaks our heart that we have to announce this unfortunate news,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil. “The government pray for the deceased and offer our deepest condolences for the bereaved family.”

While it condemned the killing, Seoul said it would not reverse its decision to send troops.

“The South Korean government reconfirms that there is no change in its basic spirit and position that it will send troops to Iraq to help reconstruction, and as humanitarian assistance,” Shin said.

World leaders condemned the killing.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was appalled and called for the release of all others being held hostage in the country.

“The secretary general condemns in the strongest terms this heartless crime, which no political or other cause can justify,” his spokesman said in a statement.

US President George W. Bush condemned the “barbaric” militants.

“In order to impose their vision, they want us to leave (Iraq). But the United States will not be intimidated,” he said.

Kim’s body was found by the US military between Baghdad and Fallujah at 10:20pm Tuesday Korea time (2320 AEST).

After news of his death broke, South Korean television showed Kim’s distraught family weeping with grief at their home in the south-eastern port city of Busan. In a traditional funeral rite, they laid out watermelon and other fruit on a cloth before a photograph of Kim.

Kim had worked for Gana General Trading, a supplier to the US military. He was kidnapped in Fallujah on June 17.

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