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Militants behead Pole on video

PAKISTANI militants appear to behead a kidnapped Polish engineer in a video delivered to media outlets, underscoring security fears ahead of this week's premier visit by a newly appointed United States envoy.

There have been several attacks on foreigners in Pakistan in recent months as its overall security has deteriorated amid a growing al-Qaida and Taliban-led insurgency. In early February an American UN worker was abducted in the southwestern city of Quetta, purportedly by separatists.

The seven-minute video appears to show the Polish hostage, Piotr Stanczak, being beheaded by three men. A hooded man then addresses the camera, blaming Pakistan for the killing for not agreeing to release Taliban prisoners.

If confirmed, Stanczak's death would apparently be the first killing of a Western hostage in Pakistan since US journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded in 2002.

Polish security services minister Jacek Cichocki said that in his opinion "that is the Pole and the film is authentic," adding final confirmation would have to wait until diplomatic services receive the body.

Stanczak was surveying oil and gas fields when he was pulled from his car last September by miltants, who killed the three Pakistanis traveling with him near the city of Attock in northwestern Pakistan.

A spokesman for the Taliban said on Saturday that they killed the Polish captive because the government missed a deadline to release 26 prisoners.

US President Barack Obama has made resolving the Afghan war a key focus of his foreign policy, appointing heavyweight diplomat Richard Holbrooke as a special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan.


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