Kidnappers set Chechnya ultimatum
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A group linked to al-Qaeda said Monday it is holding four Russian diplomats hostage and demanded Moscow withdraw its troops from Chechnya and "release all our brothers and sisters" from prison within 48 hours.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council made its demands in a posting on its Web site. It did not say what the repercussions would be if Russia did not comply.
The group added, "God enabled the lions of unification to capture four Russian diplomats in Iraq and kill a fifth," alluding to an attack June 3, when a car belonging to the Russian Embassy in Iraq came under fire. Embassy official Vitaly Titov was killed in the attack, and diplomats Fyodor Zaitsev, Rinat Agliuglin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedoseyev were kidnapped.
None of Iraq's terrorist groups had claimed responsibility for the abduction before now, and as late as Friday, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman had told the Interfax news agency "We still know nothing about the officials of the Russian diplomatic mission taken hostage in Baghdad."
The group also claimed Monday they are holding two American soldiers hostage, missing since Friday.
Their claims could not be verified, but the Web site has been used by insurgent groups in the past to post messages.
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