Also Thursday, a suicide bomber jumped on a bus after it had gone through security checks and detonated his explosives belt, killing at least 32 people on their way to the Shiite city of Nasiriyah, according to the Associated Press.
Police said the attacker waited until the bus was slowly pulling away from the station in Baghdad before jumping aboard. Flames from the explosion gutted the bus, killing the passengers, and ignited gas cylinders stored at a nearby food stall, killing several more people.
Suicide attackers have killed at least 1,819 Iraqis since the new government took office on April 28.
The incidents came as security forces in Iraq have braced for a spike in violence ahead of Dec. 15 elections.
The Islamic Army in Iraq said in a Web statement that it had killed “the American security consultant for the Housing Ministry” after the United States failed to respond to its demand of the release of Iraqi prisoners, the AP reported.
The statement, however, did not identify the hostage and provided no pictures or video proving the person had been killed. The U.S. Embassy said it had no information to confirm the claim.
A video released by the group was broadcast Tuesday on Al-Jazeera television showing the hostage, identified as Ronald Schulz, 40, an industrial electrician from Alaska, sitting with his hands tied behind his back, according to the AP.
On Tuesday, President Bush said the United States would work for the return of captive Americans in Iraq but would not abide by the captors’ terms.
“We, of course, don’t pay ransom for any hostages,” he said. “What we will do, of course, is use our intelligence-gathering to see if we can’t help locate them.”
Another insurgent group, the Swords of Righteousness, has set a Saturday deadline to kill four Christian humanitarian workers abducted two weeks ago, including an American, two Canadians and a Briton. A French aid worker and a German citizen also are being held by kidnappers.
Fifty-three foreign hostages are known to have been killed by their captors — 41 in 2004 and 12 in 2005, Reuters reported.