Threat to kill Russians captured in Iraq

A group linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq says it has decided to kill four Russian hostages after Moscow failed to meet demands to withdraw from Chechnya and free Muslim prisoners.

    The Russians' vehicle was blocked before they were taken

    According to a statement posted on a website on Wednesday, the group said: "After granting the Russian government 48 hours to meet our demands and their failure to do so ... the Islamic court of the Mujahidin Shura Council ruled to kill them.

    "And let them be an example for those who follow them and challenge the mujahidin and dare to step foot in the land of honour, Iraq."

    The statement's authenticity, however, could not be verified, and it was unclear when the hostages might be killed.

    It added that the Russian government "did not respond to our conditions for releasing its diplomats and gave no value to its citizens, only calling for their release while continuing its war against Islam and its people".

    It said the decision to kill the four came "in revenge for our brothers everywhere with whose blood the Russians' hands have been stained" and would be "an example for those who might follow them and dare to defy the mujahidin [Muslim fighters]."


    On Monday, the group said it was holding the four Russians and gave Moscow 48 hours to meet its demands.

    The decision came "in revenge for our brothers everywhere with whose blood the Russians' hands have been stained"

    Mujahidin Shura Council

    The council is an umbrella body composed of al-Qaeda in Iraq and several other groups, which has pledged to continue the battle against US-led forces despite the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Iraq's al-Qaeda.

    On June 3, four Russian embassy staff were kidnapped when gunmen blocked their vehicle in a Baghdad district and a fifth embassy employee was shot and killed. 

    Chechen fighters on Tuesday demanded the release of the hostages.

    Akhmed Zakayev, the exiled foreign minister in the Chechen rebel "government", denied any links to the Mujahidin Shura Council.

    The Russian foreign ministry called for the captives' immediate release and said: "The abduction of citizens of a country that is energetically helping to restore peace in Iraq" cannot be justified.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.