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Militants Threaten to Kill U.S., UK Hostages in Iraq

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I have a crick in my neck from shaking my head. We aint seen nothin yet.

Militants Threaten to Kill U.S., UK Hostages in Iraq
Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:53 AM ET

By Andrew Marshall

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents threatened on Saturday to cut the throats of two Americans and a Briton seized in Baghdad, and launched a suicide car bomb attack on Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk that killed at least 23 people.

In Internet video footage the three hostages were shown kneeling blindfolded on the ground, with a hooded gunman aiming his weapon at the head of one of the captives.

The gunman said the Tawhid and Jihad group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would kill the men unless female Iraqi prisoners were freed from two Iraqi jails within 48 hours.

"Tawhid and Jihad sets a 48-hour deadline for the release of all our Muslim sisters in Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr prisons or else, by God, these three hostages will have their throats slit to set an example," the militant said.

The U.S. military said no women were held at either jail.

Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for many of the bloodiest attacks in Iraq, and in May released video footage of the beheading of U.S. hostage Nicholas Berg.

Guerrilla violence and instability across Iraq have undermined the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and raised doubts that elections can be held in January as planned.

In the third major suicide attack this week against Iraq's beleaguered security forces, a car bomber on Saturday killed at least 23 people outside the headquarters of the Iraqi National Guard in the northern city of Kirkuk, hospital officials said.

The bomb ripped through a crowd of people waiting to apply for jobs at the offices in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. Iraqis queuing up to join the country's security forces have repeatedly been targeted by guerrillas.

Body parts, shoes and debris littered the dirt road outside the headquarters. Firefighters doused flames from a mangled car, and ambulances ferried the wounded to hospital.


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