Group: Female Italian Hostages Killed

An Internet statement purportedly by a group which claimed to have kidnapped two Italian aid workers in Iraq said Wednesday it had killed the women. The Web site posting could not be immediately verified.

Also, the site used by the Islamic Jihad Organization (search) has not been regularly used by Iraqi militants to relay their statements.

Italian state radio's correspondent in New York, covering Foreign Minister Franco Frattini at the U.N. General Assembly (search) session, quoted ministry spokesman Michele Valensise saying there was no confirmation of the claim. Frattini had been in contact with the Italian embassy in Baghdad, state radio said early Thursday.

The Italian Foreign Ministry's Crisis Unit in Rome (search) said it was trying to check out the authenticity of the claim.

Ten days ago, the Islamic Jihad group claimed to be holding the women and was on a different Web site.

The Italians, Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both 29, were seized from their Baghdad offices by armed militants on Sept. 7. They worked for "Un Ponte Per ..." ("A Bridge to ...") and were involved in school and water projects in Iraq.

"We in the Jihad Organization of Iraq declared that the verdict of God Almighty against the two Italian prisoners has been carried out, by slaughtering them," the statement said.