An Iraqi militant group said Wednesday that it had taken three Indians, two Kenyans and an Egyptian hostage and planned to behead them if their countries did not immediately announce their intention to withdraw their citizens from Iraq, news wires report. None of the countries whose citizens are among the new captives are part of the 160,000-member coalition force in Iraq. In a statement given to the Associated Press, the group, calling itself "The Holders of the Black Banners," said they had taken the six truckers hostage and would behead one of them every 72 hours if their nations did not pull out of Iraq and the company they work for did not close its branch there. The deadline starts from 8 p.m. Wednesday, it said. The statement came a day after militants released Filipino hostage Angelo dela Cruz, whose country gave in to his captors' demands and pulled its 51-member force out of Iraq. More than 60 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq in recent months.
And, in Saudi Arabia, the head of slain American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., who was kidnapped and decapitated by militants in Saudi Arabia last month, was found by security forces during a raid that targeted the Saudi al Qaeda chief Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi, news wires report. The Saudi Interior Ministry said Johnson's head was found after a search of one of three locations after the raid late Tuesday that hit the home of al Aoofi. The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that two militants were killed and three others were wounded. One of the dead militants, identified by the Interior Ministry as Issa Saad Mohammed bin Oushan, is on the Saudi government's list of wanted militants. The statement did not name others but Arab news stations have reported that al Aoofi may be among the casualties. Al Aoofi is thought to be the successor of Abdulaziz al Moqrin, the alleged mastermind of Johnson's kidnapping and beheading, who was shot and killed by security forces on June 17th after photos of Johnson's beheading were posted on the internet.
Iraq Militant Group Takes 6 New Hostages A militant group said Wednesday it had taken two Kenyans, three Indians and an Egyptian hostage and would behead them if their countries did not announce their intention to withdraw their troops from Iraq immediately. (AP)
Three U.S. Allies Face New Threat in Iraq U.S. allies Poland, Japan and Bulgaria face new purported threats for role in Iraq. (AP)
U.S. Toll In Iraq Exceeds 900 A roadside bomb has exploded killing one US soldier and taking the number of US military dead since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 above 900. (Aljazeera)
Iraq Seeks Border Security Boost Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has warned that instability in Iraq could spill over to other countries in the region. (BBC)
In Iraq, Booze Becomes A Risky Business Fundamentalists Blamed for Wave of Attacks on Shops, Owners. (Washington Post)
Iraq's Oil Platforms Provide Vital Revenue, Prime Terror Target Standing in near-isolation in the Persian Gulf, the al Basra oil platform holds the key to Iraq's economic recovery, making the rusting highway of pipes one of the biggest terrorist targets in the region. (ABCNEWS)