Iraqi militants are today threatening to burn three foreign hostages to death unless their country quits the US-led coalition.
Two Japanese men and one woman are being held by a previously unknown group which has vowed to kill them if Japanese soldiers do not leave Iraq. Elsewhere, seven South Koreans are being held hostage west of Baghdad by an unknown group, while a British man has been reported missing in the south.
The plight of the Japanese hostages – two aid workers and one journalist was revealed in dramatic video footage shown on al-Jazeera TV. It showed the three surrounded by masked gunmen, who claimed to be from Saraya al-Mujahideen, “the squadrons of holy warriors”.
A written statement said: “Three of your sons have fallen in our hands. We offer you two choices: either pull out your forces, or we will burn them alive.
We give you three days starting the day this tape is broadcast.”