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Militants Claim Official's Kin Seized

August 26, 2004|From Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Militants said in a video Wednesday that they had kidnapped the brother-in-law of Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan and demanded that he end all military operations in the holy city of Najaf, Al Jazeera satellite television reported.

The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified.

Separately, two Turkish companies said they were withdrawing their workers from Iraq after militants threatened to behead two kidnapped employees.

The militants in the video, calling themselves the Divine Wrath Brigades, said they had kidnapped Maj. Gen. Salah Hassan Lami, Shaalan's brother-in-law and the director of military affairs at the Defense Ministry, according to Al Jazeera. A second man also was seized, though it was unclear whether he was related to Lami or Shaalan.

The two men are shown sitting before two black-clad men, one of whom is holding a gun.

The militants also demanded the release of Sheik Ali Sumaysim, a top aide to Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. Sumaysim was arrested in Najaf earlier Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Turkish media reported that militants in Iraq had threatened to kill two Turkish hostages if their companies did not withdraw in three days.

Hours later, the two companies -- Usluel and SA-RA -- began withdrawing their staff from Iraq, the Anatolian news agency reported.

Private NTV and CNN-Turk news channels broadcast a video Wednesday from a Turkish news agency showing Abdullah Ozdemir and Ali Daskin, who were reportedly kidnapped from a construction site in Iraq. It was not clear when they were abducted.

It was not clear when the video was filmed, and there was no way to verify its authenticity.

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