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Sorrow, outrage over hostage fate

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Family members and the S. Korean government react to the murder of Kim Sun-il.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports on the killing of the South Korean hostage.

Beheading as a tool of terrorist propaganda.
South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- The news of the brutal slaying of South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il in Iraq has been met with sorrow and outrage around the world.

South Koreans awoke to learn of the distressing development Wednesday morning with television images showing Kim's distraught family weeping and rocking back and forth with grief at their home in the southeastern port city of Busan.

Kim's body was found by U.S. military police west of Baghdad and appeared to have been thrown from a vehicle.

"The man had been beheaded, and the head was recovered with the body,"a senior coalition official in Iraq said.

Pentagon sources said the body had been booby-trapped with explosives. (Full story)

In his first public reaction to the killing, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun expressed his sorrow but said he would never bow to terrorism.

"I am very sorry and deeply regretful that this tragedy happened," Roh said in a televised statement.

"We strongly condemn terrorism and we will sternly combat it in cooperation with the international community," he said.

"We should never tolerate terror as a means to an end."

The murder is likely to intensify pressure on the South Korean government to rethink its planned deployment of 3,000 additional troops to Iraq.

Protesters held a second night of candle-light vigils calling for Seoul to change its stance. Further demonstrations against what is a deeply unpopular policy are expected.

Seoul defiant

Late editions of South Korean newspapers splashed the news of the decapitation and the Foreign Ministry's comment site was awash with emotional comments, Reuters reports.

"The government should have dropped the troops plan if it really cared about its own people, rather than its relationship with the United States," Yoon Hyun-sung, a 31-year-old bond trader, said.

"I am really angry about the incapable South Korean government," said 31-year-old office worker Jeon Jae-hong. "The government and politicians are only good at fighting each other."

The government, however, has reiterated its intention to continue with the troop deployment.

"Our government's basic spirit and position has not changed," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil told reporters.

"We confirm that again because our troop deployment is for reconstruction and humanitarian aid support for Iraq."

The council said it would strengthen safety measures to prevent similar incidents and was seeking the early withdrawal of all non-essential South Korean civilian residents.

The government has already said about 30 businessmen will leave.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also condemned the killing, calling it a "heartless crime, which no political or other cause can justify."

In a written statement, Annan said he was appalled at the murder, and offered his condolences to the victim's family and the South Korean government.

The secretary-general also appealed for the immediate and safe release of all hostages held in Iraq.

During a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, ambassadors from Senegal, Canada, Uganda and Australia also offered their condolences for and condemnation of the killing.

"In the face of such evil, the world must stand united against the scourge of international terrorism that continues to plague our global community," Philippines Foreign Secretary Delia Domingo-Albert said.

"On behalf of the members of the Security Council, I wish to condemn in the strongest terms this abominable act of terrorism against an innocent civilian," she said.

The Philippines holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council for June.

U.S. President George W. Bush described the beheading as "barbaric" and said he remained confident that South Korea would go ahead with plans to send the troops to Iraq.

South Korea will be the third-largest troop contributor after the United States and Britain.

"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," the U.S. president said.

CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth contributed to this report

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