BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — The unidentified remains of four bodies have been found in Iraq near Baghdad, two U.S. State Department officials said Tuesday.
Efforts are under way to identify the remains, the officials said.
The mutilated bodies were found on the outskirts of the capital, another State Department official said.
The Coalition Provisional Authority has notified the energy-services firm Halliburton Co. of the discovery of the bodies.
Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, employed seven contractors who have gone missing in Iraq, one of whom is confirmed to be a hostage.
Insurgents kidnapped truck driver Thomas Hamill on Friday during an ambush on a fuel convoy near the Baghdad airport, and threatened to kill him if U.S. troops were not withdrawn from Fallujah by last Saturday.
Halliburton has notified the families of the missing men that four bodies have been found but told them no identifications have been made.
“We can not confirm that these are KBR employees,” a statement from Halliburton headquarters in Houston, Texas, said.
“While we are not yet certain of the identification of these brave individuals, and no matter who they are, we at Halliburton are saddened to learn of these deaths and are working with the authorities so the families can begin the grieving and healing process.”
The third State Department official said the agency also has been in contact with the families of the missing contractors.
Halliburton said it has lost 30 people in Iraq and Kuwait. It employs more than 24,000 people in the region.
It also said Kellogg, Brown & Root has made a joint decision with the U.S. Army to suspend some convoys until additional military security can be put in place.
Forty other people from 12 countries also are being held by Iraqi militants, said Dan Senor, spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.
He called for the hostages to be released as soon as possible and said there would be no negotiations with the abductors.
Several nations were trying to free the hostages through diplomacy.
The French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a French journalist was kidnapped in Baghdad.
Also Tuesday, the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera broadcast video of what it said were four Italians who had been kidnapped.
The video showed armed men surrounding four men, who were seated and appeared to be holding their passports.
In another kidnapping, eight employees of a Russian electric power consortium in Iraq were released Tuesday, according to the company’s executive director, Alexander Rybinsky. Five of the workers were Ukrainians. The other three were Russians. They were said to be in good condition.
Rybinsky said a group of masked, armed men stormed into a company building Monday in Baghdad, overpowering armed guards, taking nine employees hostage and then driving them away. One employee was released earlier. (More on hostages)
On Tuesday, the Pentagon identified two Army Reserve soldiers who have been missing in Iraq since their convoy was attacked Friday: Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina; and Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio. Both soldiers are assigned to the Army Reserve’s 724th Transportation Company, Bartonville, Illinois.