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Iraq hostage video released


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The government of Kenya on Thursday released the names of three citizens kidnapped in Iraq, along with four other men, by a group that has threatened to behead them if their demands are not met.

Captors have demanded that a trucking company that employs the hostages stop its activities in Iraq.

In response to the kidnapping, the government of Kenya asked all of its citizens to leave Iraq, a government spokesman said.

The Kenyan men were identified as Faiz Khamis Salim, 39, Jalal Mohamed Awadh, 39, Ibrahim Khamis Idd, 48. All of the men are married with children.

All are truck drivers for Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company, as are all the other hostages. The Kenyans are from Mombassa.

"We plead with the kidnappers to release the men so that they may be reunited with their families," Dr. Alfred Mutua, a government spokesman for Kenya said at a news conference.

"Don't leave us as orphans," Umi Mohamed-Omollo, a cousin of Ibrahim Khamis Idd pleaded.

Currently Kenya has no troops or companies in Iraq.

Meanwhile, a new video of the hostages was released Thursday in which one of the Kenyans gives a short statement in English.

"I've been sent to Kuwait for working, but I've been sent off to Iraq, which is not good. Iraq is a dangerous zone," he said. "I wish to tell anyone not to come to Iraq."

At this point on the video, a voice can be heard off-camera, apparently reminding him of his next line.

He then adds, "... to come to help Americans. Americans they are not good. Thank you very much."

Egyptian Muhammed Ali Sanad also issued a passionate statement, begging for his own release.

"I work for KGL and we were kidnapped -- release us," he says in Arabic. "It is wrong to help the Americans. It is wrong to come to Kuwait. We want to go back home.

"The Egyptians need to know that we were forced to work for the Americans and the Jews. We want to go back to my brothers. They feed us here and give us water until they decide what will they do with us. We will not come to Iraq or Kuwait again. Help us to get out of here."

One of the Indian hostages, who identified himself as Tilak Raj, gave a statement in Hindi.

Arabic-language network Al Arabiya on Wednesday showed footage of six of the hostages standing behind three seated, masked gunmen. In the report, a spokesman for the militant group, which calls itself Black Flags, demanded that the companies or countries the men are affiliated with pull their personnel from Iraq or they would behead the hostages, one by one.

An Egyptian diplomat in Baghdad said Egyptian and Indian diplomats met Thursday to discuss a strategy for dealing with the hostage crisis. "The Indians are extremely worried," he said.

The hostage-takers have threatened to behead one hostage every 72 hours beginning Saturday if their demand isn't met. The countdown to the deadline started at 8 p.m. (noon ET) Wednesday.

The Egyptian diplomat confirmed that Kenya does not have a diplomatic mission in Iraq and he said that it is unclear who will take the lead in any possible discussions.

"Applying pressure on the companies doesn't make sense, " the diplomat said. "The multinational forces don't need a few Indians and Kenyans to deliver goods to Iraq. The troops have their own logistics system."

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a statement condemning the kidnappings.

"We have been in communication with the US Embassy in Baghdad to facilitate contact between the Indian Government, the Government of Iraq, and the Multinational Force in Iraq to secure their release," the statement said.

India and Egypt do not have troops in Iraq.

The militants said that any Kuwaiti company which deals with Americans will be treated like the Americans, meaning they will come under attack by Iraq insurgents.

India's Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on Thursday spoke to various Arab satellite networks, in an attempt to help secure the release of the three Indians, according to an adviser to the Indian prime minister, Sanjaya Baru.

"[Singh] has said that India has always been a considerate friend of the Iraqi people," Baru said. "We are trying to find out the families of these people [hostages]. The prime minister is keen to speak to them. The [Foreign] Ministry is monitoring the situation."

The Minister of State for External Affairs in New Delhi said he believes the three Indians may have been taken by mistake.

"It's really very much surprising because Indians have not been targeted by any group anywhere and not particularly in Iraq and people of Iraq also know India's stand on Iraq," E. Ahamed told reporters. "India is one country which said an emphatic 'no' that it had taken a very definite decision that India will not be sending troops to Iraq."

Two of the abducted Indians -- Tilak Raj and Sukh Dev Singh -- are from the state of Punjab near the India-Pakistan border, according to officials there. The other hostage, known only by his first name Antaryami, is from neighboring state of Himachal Pradesh.

A few months ago, India passed a law banning its nationals from traveling to Iraq because of the security situation, however thousands of Indians continue to work across the Middle East, including Iraq.

Filipino truck driver Angelo De la Cruz was released by his captors Tuesday after the Philippines met their demand to remove its 51-member contingent from Iraq, a month ahead of schedule. His abductors had threatened to behead him. The Filipino truck driver and father of eight returned to the Philippines on Thursday.

The Philippine government has been criticized by the United States for giving in to the terrorists' demands, because the Bush administration feels it gives the wrong message to the terrorists.


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