Insurgents kill 11 kidnapped soldiers

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The Independent Online

Eleven Iraqi soldiers taken hostage by insurgents have been murdered. A video released by their captors showed one man being beheaded and 10 others being shot.

Eleven Iraqi soldiers taken hostage by insurgents have been murdered. A video released by their captors showed one man being beheaded and 10 others being shot.

Another video released yesterday featured an abducted Polish woman, while the deadline for a Japanese kidnap victim is due to run out today.

Their captors - separate groups of militants - have demanded that the respective countries of the two hostages withdraw their troops from Iraq.

The killings of the soldiers, members of the Iraqi National Guard, follow the capture and execution of 49 army recruits last weekend.

Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister, blames US forces of "gross negligence" on that occasion for allowing the soldiers to go to their deaths unarmed and unprotected.

The men were seized on a highway between Baghdad and Hilla earlier in the week. In the video, each man was made to read out his name and that of his unit before they were murdered. A voiceover from the head of the militant group, Ansar al-Sunnah, said: "Repent to God ... abandon your weapons and go home and beware of supporting the apostate Crusaders or their followers, the Iraqi government, or you will find death."

A statement on the website said: " We will not forget about the blood of our elderly, women and children that are shed daily in Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi and elsewhere on your hands and the hands of those you work with."

Ansar al-Sunnah was also responsible for the murders of 12 Nepalese hostages in August.

The kidnapping of the Polish woman, whose identity remains undisclosed, comes after the abduction of Margaret Hassan, the head of the charity Care International in Baghdad. Like Mrs Hassan, the woman is married to an Iraqi.

The Japanese captive, Shosei Koda, is being held by a group headed by Jordanian militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He was taken captive after being seen wandering around Baghdad with a backpack asking for hotel accommodation. Mr Koda had left Japan for a year-long trip.

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