In a press release on Monday, Aljazeera denounced the killing, abduction and harassment of journalists in Iraq, and called for the immediate release of all journalists held hostage in the war-torn country.

It also called for the freedom of journalists to carry out their mission in order to get facts to the public everywhere.

Aljazeera also urged all concerned parties "to ensure freedom of access to journalists, especially those in wars and conflict areas".

Aljazeera aired a video tape on Saturday showing two French journalists captured in Iraq by an armed group. In a statement sent to the Arab satellite channel, the group demanded the French government should end a ban on Muslim headscarves for the release of the hostages.

The two captives were identified as Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale and George Malbrunot of Le Figaro.

Clarification

In other recent statements, Aljazeera denied allegations by the Italian press about the contents of a video tape it received concerning the execution of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni.

Aljazeera has clarified allegations
concerning Baldoni's death

Several Italian newspapers speculated on Sunday that the tape, which recently came into Aljazeera's possession, contained images of struggling and violence. But in a statement on Sunday, Aljazeera called the newspaper allegations "an absolute fabrication".

The channel said the tape - which consisted of only 15 seconds of footage - comprises one image focusing on Baldoni's head, neck and part of his shoulder protruding from a sandy ditch.

"While broadcasting the news item ... Aljazeera refrained from airing the footage as it might be distressing for its viewers, as the anchorperson clearly read out at the time of broadcast," said the statement.