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Iraqi militants threaten to kill German woman, son

The militants want Germany to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within 10 days.

world Updated: Mar 10, 2007 16:10 IST

An Iraqi insurgent group has threatened to kill a German woman and her son, said to have been kidnapped in Iraq, unless Germany withdrew its troops from Afghanistan within 10 days, pan-Arab television stations reported on Saturday.

The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya and the Qatar based Al-Jazeera networks aired a video from a previously unknown insurgent group called the "Arrows of Righteousness," showing the abducted woman and her son.

In the footage, the woman is identified as Hannelore Marianne Krause. She wears a blue scarf over her head and is shown seated, next to her grown son to her right, according to the stations' reports.

Their faces are downcast. The son, a dark-haired younger man, did not speak, while the video carried subtitles in Arabic of the woman's appeal in German.

The woman appears to be in her late 50s. Masked gunmen also are shown in the video, threatening to kill the two in 10 days if Germany did not give in to their demand and pulled out from Afghanistan.

German officials have refused to identify the captives. It wasn't clear what the two were doing in Iraq.

The foreign ministry in Berlin would not confirm the reported threats on Saturday, saying only that a ministry crisis unit has been working on the case and would evaluate the reports.

The TV stations said the woman appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to respond to the kidnappers' demands.

The video also shows some sort of identity document which was not clearly visible but appeared to be either a German passport or the woman's ID card.

The authenticity of the insurgent video, carried by the Arab stations, was not independently verified.

The Associated Press was not immediately able to track down the Internet video. Last month, German authorities confirmed that two Germans had been missing in Iraq since Feb 6.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters during an EU meeting in Brussels that he could not rule out kidnapping by force.

Steinmeier had also said the special crisis panel was set up to work on the release of the two Germans but nothing more was heard of them since.

German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost had said the two apparently were kidnapped in Baghdad.

Last May in Iraq, two German engineers were freed after 99 days in captivity there. Another German was released after three weeks in December 2005.

Germany has no troops in Iraq but has about 2,700 troops serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, most of them focused in the north of the country.

On Friday, the German parliament approved government plans to send a squadron of Tornado reconnaissance aircraft to bolster NATO forces in Afghanistan.