The men were abducted in Iraq earlier this week, and the Chinese government had urged officials to spare no effort to win their release.

"We ask your government to issue a statement forbidding Chinese citizens from entering Iraq and this will be considered as a positive gesture and will make us look mercifully on the detainees," the captors said in a video obtained by Reuters on Friday. 
 
The Chinese government opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but like other nations, its companies have been muscling in on lucrative reconstruction contracts in the war-ravaged country. 

Previous footage

The men had been in Iraq for about a year but lost their jobs in November.

The captors released footage on Tuesday to Aljazeera of the captives holding Chinese passports and standing against a mud brick wall flanked by two masked gunmen.

The China Daily said fighters from the Movement of the Islamic Resistance Nuamaan Brigade were behind the seizure and had threatened to kill the men unless Beijing "clarifies its role" in Iraq within 48 hours of the video's broadcast.