Four hostages were released by the self-titled Falluja Mujahidin, the Jordanian foreign minister said on Monday, while a Turkish hostage was reportedly released by a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement - Nuaman Brigades.

 

"A short while ago the hostages were released. They are four, a Sudanese national and three Jordanians," Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muashar said in Amman. 

 

Muashar identified the Jordanians as Muhammad Bashir, Qasim Gharibi and Nabil Musa Muhammad.

 

The Falluja Mujahidin announced in a videotape aired on Sunday by Aljazeera that it had taken four Jordanian drivers hostage.

 

The group claimed the drivers had been transporting supplies to US forces.

 

Ransom for French journalists

 

A statement posted on a web site by a purported Iraqi group set a $5 million ransom for the release of French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who were kidnapped by the so-called Islamic Army in Iraq on 20 August. 

The French journalists have been
held for more than a fortnight

 

There was no way of verifying the authenticity of the statement.

 

The statement - allegedly from the kidnappers - gave France 48 hours to accept three new conditions; agreeing to a recent truce offer by Usama bin Ladin, payment of $5 million ransom and a pledge not to get commercially involved in Iraq.
 
The truce with bin Ladin refers to a peace deal he allegedly offered European countries calling on on them to refrain from attacks against Muslims and pull their troops out of the Islamic world within three months.

 

The website statement also called on US occupation forces to stop attacking Latifiya, south of Baghdad. The statement went on to claim that the French were to be freed on 3 August, but that a US attack on Latifiya aborted their release. 

 

Cleric's plea

 

Mahdi al-Sumaidai is demanding 
the journalists' release

A senior Muslim cleric, Mahdi al-Sumaidai issued a fatwa on Sunday, calling for their immediate freedom.

 

He also said that a US-led raid on the area where they were seized had "disrupted the process of their release." 

  

Since April, armed groups have turned to capturing foreigners in a campaign to force firms and foreign troops to leave Iraq.

 

Jordan secured the release of eight of its citizens captured in Iraq in July and August through mediation efforts and in some cases a ransom was paid by relatives of the captives in exchange for their freedom.

 

Several Jordanian drivers have also been abducted and then released by armed groups in Iraq over past weeks.

 

About two dozen foreign hostages have been killed.

 

Driver freed

 

The Turkish truck driver who was kidnapped by an Iraqi resistance group was also released, a senior Turkish diplomat told reporters.

 

The abduction of the driver, Medhat Civi, was announced two days ago by a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement - Nuaman Brigades.

 

Civi said in a video tape released on Monday, that his captors had treated him well and he called on Turkish drivers to stop transporting goods to Iraq.

 

His release came after his Kuwaiti employer promised to cease all acitivities in Iraq.

 

A Turkish foreign ministry official in Ankara confirmed Civi had been freed. His whereabouts were not made clear.