Nervous and sweating, the three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian gave their names and nationalities on the tape, received by foreign news agencies on Thursday.

"We want to go home, please help us so that we are not cut up into pieces because then you would bear the guilt of orphaning our children," said one of the civilians.

A previously unknown group calling itself the "Black Banners" threatened on Wednesday to execute the drivers one by one every 72 hours unless the Kuwaiti firm they work for pulls out of Iraq.

The kidnappings are the latest in a spate of similar crises in Iraq, mainly designed to put pressure on foreign governments and companies to pull out of the country or stay away. India, Kenya and Egypt were not part of the US-led occupation.

Egyptian captive Muhammed Ali Sanad tried to reassure his family.

"My kids, Ahmed and
Ali, don't worry. I am coming at the end of the month as I promised you, but if we die then I say, Thank God"

Muhammad Ali Sanad,
captured Egyptian truck driver

He said: "Mum, if you see me on TV don't get worried, we are with the best people, the Iraqis. They are feeding us, but this is routine and must happen so they can stop infidels from entering Iraq."

"You too my kids, Ahmed and Ali, don't worry. I am coming at the end of the month as I promised you, but if we die then I say, Thank God."

"It is the first and the last time I come to Iraq and to Kuwait. Please, we want to go home, help us, help release us so they don't behead us," he added, wiping sweat from his face.

'Dangerous zone'

An official from the KGL Transport Company in Kuwait confirmed that seven employees from the company had been kidnapped in Iraq.

Kenya confirmed on Thursday that three of its nationals had been seized and said it was working to secure their release. Local newspapers identified them as Ibrahim Khamis, Salm Faiz Khamis and Jalal Awadh.

One of the Kenyan men said: "I've been sent to Iraq, which is not good. Iraq is a dangerous zone. I want to tell everyone not to come to Iraq, to come to help the Americans. Americans are not good."

Indian officials in Baghdad are working with Egypt and Kenya to get the Indian nationals released, said a government official in New Delhi on condition of anonymity.

Indian External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh said his country was in contact with authorities in Baghdad and Kuwait "to ensure an early and safe release of the hostages".

"The hostages are non-combatants, and I appeal to all those who have influence to assist in ensuring the safe return home of these innocent people," Singh said in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Past incidents

Several foreigners captured in Iraq have been executed, including an American, a South Korean and a Bulgarian who have been beheaded.

Angelo de la Cruz (C) returned to
a tearful welcome in Manila

Many hostages have also been freed. An Egyptian driver was released on Monday after the Saudi firm he worked for agreed to his captors' demands to close its offices in Iraq.

A Filipino captive was released on Tuesday after Manila withdrew its 51 troops from Iraq.

Angelo de la Cruz received a hero's welcome on Thursday and was embraced by his eight children when he disembarked at Manila’s international airport.

Manila's President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo risked close ties with Washington to save the life of a worker she described as "a Filipino Everyman".

Close to tears and looking tired and worn, de la Cruz wore a shirt printed with the words "I am a Filipino" on the front and "To work is honourable" on the back.