Al-Jazeera Shows Russian Hostages Footage
CAIRO, Egypt (AP)_ The Arab news network Al-Jazeera broadcast footage Sunday of two Russian hostages held in Iraq and read a statement from a group demanding that foreign troops withdraw from the country.
The brief footage showed the two men, seemingly in good health, sitting against a wall. One of the men was drinking out of a metal cup as the other sat nearby.
The men, who were seized Monday, seemed to be talking with other people, who were not shown.
Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said the video was received Sunday, but he would not elaborate.
The statement, from a group calling itself the Army of Al-Ta’ifah al-Mansurah (the victorious sect), said it kidnapped the Russians and demanded that foreign countries withdraw their troops from Iraq.
Moscow strongly opposed the U.S.-led war against Iraq and has repeatedly called for a stronger U.N. role in the nation. Russia does not have any troops in Iraq.
A copy of the statement, read by an Al-Jazeera announcer, was shown on half of the screen.
The Russians, employees of Interenergoservis, were attacked Monday in Musayyib, about 37 miles south of Baghdad, where they worked at the Southern Baghdad power station, said a Russian diplomat in Baghdad. One worker was killed, and two others were taken hostage.
The Interfax news agency identified the two seized workers as Alexander Gordiyenko, 27, and Andrei Meshcheryakov, 33.