Turkish hostages found dead in Iraq

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The Independent Online

The bodies of two Turks taken hostage in Iraq, and a third unidentified man, have been found at a remote farm in the north of the country.

The discovery, five miles from the city of Samarra by a police patrol, follows the release of a video purportedly showing the killings of three Turkish men by a militant group.

Two of the dead were identified as Majeed Mohammed and Yahya Qadir. The Arabic television station al-Jazeera said it had received a statement from the Tawhid Jihad group, claiming responsibility for the murders. The group, which is linked to the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said: "The time of forgiveness has gone. You have nothing left except killing and beheading."

Ukraine may withdraw its 1,600 troops from Iraq after the Iraqi election next year, Viktor Yanukovich, the Prime Minister, said on a surprise visit to the country. "As soon as the situation in the country stabilises and we feel it, we will start to withdraw our troops."

In London, Iraq's new ambassador to Britain, Salah Al-Shaikhly praised Tony Blair and the British people for helping to depose Saddam Hussein. He said: "We appreciate the courage of Prime Minister Blair for his steadfast position, and for the British Government's role in liberating our country from the rule of tyranny and evil dictatorship."

Mr Al-Shaikhly confirmed that Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi Prime Minister, will not address the Labour Party conference during his visit to Britain.