Footage appeared on the Internet late Monday reportedly showing the execution of a Turkish hostage by masked gunmen. The latest in a series of murders of foreigners working in Iraq caused the Turkish truckers’ union to end its work bringing supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq in hopes of saving two other captive Turks.
The murder was the latest bloodshed in an insurgent campaign aimed at forcing coalition forces out and scaring foreign companies from operating in Iraq.
The footage, posted on a Web site used by militant groups, depicted the captive — an employee of a Turkish company subcontracted for a Jordanian firm — kneeling in front of three armed men and reading a statement in Turkish. He identifies himself as Murat Yuce. At the end of the statement one of the masked gunmen pulls out a pistol and shoots him in the side of the head. He slumps to the ground and the kidnapper shoots him in the head twice more.
A black banner on the wall identifies the group as Tawhid and Jihad, the Zarqawi group accused of kidnapping the three Turks last week.
The slaying comes on the heels of this weekend’s bombings of four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul that killed at least seven people and wounded 37 others. The wave of bombings marked the first major attacks on Iraq’s Christian minority.
Iraq’s national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said Sunday’s attacks bear all the hallmarks of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose group has been linked to al-Qaida. Zarqawi has taken responsibility for numerous attacks against Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners.
Some experts said the church bombings might have signaled a change in tactics for insurgents, who have previously attacked U.S. forces, Iraqi officials and police and foreign workers.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, decried the “vicious” bombings.
“Iraq is witnessing a series of criminal acts targeting its unity, stability and independence,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Iraqi police Gen. Mohammed Kairi Barhawi called the perpetrators of Sunday’s attacks “criminals and terrorists,” and said Iraqis would remain unified against them.