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Germans abducted in Iraq appeal for release

In the video aired by Al-Jazeera TV, the two men were seen squatting on the ground with gunmen standing to their left and right.
By Indo-Asian News Service | None, Cairo
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2006 07:44 PM IST

Two German engineers kidnapped in Iraq were shown in a video on Friday, three days after their abduction, appealing to the government in Berlin to do everything possible to secure their release.

In the video, aired by the pan-Arab channel Al-Jazeera, the two men could be seen squatting on the ground, with gunmen standing to their left and right.

The two hostages, Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke, appeared to be in good health.

They spoke in German, giving their names and appealing for German government action to obtain their release.

In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said they were "shocking images" and said Germany would do "everything humanly possible" to win the hostages' release, but would also "proceed with a sense of proportion."

He called again for the men's immediate release saying: "We utterly condemn this act." Chancellor Angela Merkel was to make a statement to the media later in the day.

The pair of engineers were kidnapped Tuesday in the northern city of Bayji, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad.

A third German managed to escape, Iraqi police said.

A group calling itself Kataib Ansar al-Tawhid wal-Sunna (the Brigades of the Supporters of Monotheism and the way of the Prophet Mohammed), has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

In the video, which was apparently made on the day of the abduction, the kidnappers made no demands.

The missing men are employees of a small Leipzig company, Cryotec GmbH, and had been sent to Iraq last week to help install machinery at a detergent-making plant.

A German freelance archaeologist kidnapped in Iraq last month, was later released amid unconfirmed reports that a ransom was paid.

Friends of the kidnapped men expressed relief that a message had come in after three days of waiting.

"It's nice to at least have that," said Michael Herrn, who coaches an amateur team in which Braeunlich, 31, is a keen footballer. Members of the SV Gruen-Weiss Miltitz club have been quick to help the hostages' families.

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