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Al-Jazeera airs tape of two German hostages

Al-Jazeera television aired a videotape of two German hostages on Tuesday, and the station said the kidnappers demanded Germany close its embassy in Baghdad and stop cooperating with the Iraqi government.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 03:15 IST

Al-Jazeera television aired a videotape of two German hostages on Tuesday, and the station said the kidnappers demanded Germany close its embassy in Baghdad and stop cooperating with the Iraqi government.

An Al-Jazeera producer, contacted by telephone at the station in Doha, Qatar, said the kidnappers threatened to kill the hostages, Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, if their demands were not met within 72 hours.

The tape arrived on Tuesday. The producer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to answer inquiries. The brief tape showed Nitzschke and Braeunlich, both engineers, seated on the floor in front of a group of armed men. Al-Jazeera said the previously unknown group, the Tawhid and Sunnah Brigade, demanded the German government close its embassy in Baghdad, withdraw all the German companies from Iraq and to stop cooperation with the Iraqi government.

The last tape aired showing the Germans appeared on January 27 on Al-Jazeera and was dated January 24, the day they were abducted in the northern industrial city of Beiji.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had condemned "this cruel kidnapping" and had called for their release "without delay." The engineers, who work for a company in Leipzig, were kidnapped only two days after arriving in Iraq by armed men wearing military fatigues.

At least five foreigners were kidnapped in January: the Germans, two Kenyan engineers and American journalist Jill Carroll. Carroll's kidnappers have threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women are freed from custody. The US military released five Iraqi women on Thursday but said the move was unrelated to the kidnappers' demand.

Nothing has been heard from the two Kenyans since they were seized in an ambush on their convoy in Baghdad on January 18.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 03:15 IST