Iraqi militants have denied reports that they released a Philippine national, and say they will behead him unless the Philippines withdraws all its troops from Iraq by July 20th.
A statement from the militants broadcast on the Arabic satellite television network al-Jazeera says that until then, they will continue to hold Angelo dela Cruz. The militants' latest statement came after Philippine authorities said the captive would be freed Saturday.
The Philippines says it will bring its troops home as scheduled on August 20th, not earlier.
Meanwhile, Bulgarian officials expressed cautious optimism that two of their kidnapped citizens are still alive even though militants affiliated with wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said they would kill them Friday.
Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.