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Militants Kill 3 Iraqi Kurds in Website Video

From Associated Press

A grisly videotape posted on a website showed the beheading of three hostages believed to be Iraqi Kurds accused by militants of cooperating with U.S. forces.

A separate group also claimed to have captured 18 Iraqi national guardsmen and threatened to kill them unless a detained aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr was freed, the Arabic-language satellite station Al Jazeera reported.

In another sign of instability 18 months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a suicide car bombing killed three people in Samarra -- a city northwest of Baghdad that American and Iraqi commanders have portrayed as a success story in their attempts to put down the insurgency.

Over the past week, about 300 people have been killed in escalating violence, including bombings, street fighting and U.S. airstrikes. Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that there could not be “credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now.”

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The decapitated bodies of the three slain Kurdish hostages were found on a road near the northern city of Mosul, said Sarkawt Hassan, security chief in the Kurdish town of Sulaymaniya. He said the three were members of the peshmerga militia of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The videotape, posted Sunday on a site known for its Islamic militant content, shows three young men, two of whom hold up identity cards. Seconds later, each has his throat slit and his head placed on the back of his body.

The Ansar al Sunna Army -- a Sunni militant group that said it had killed 12 Nepalese hostages in August and carried out Feb. 1 suicide attacks against Kurdish political parties that killed 109 people -- claimed responsibility for the beheadings in a statement with the video.

It said the three were KDP members snatched as they were transporting military vehicles to a base in Taji, 10 miles north of Baghdad.

The tape and statement could not be verified.

On Wednesday, security forces said they had discovered three beheaded bodies -- all male and with tattoos -- without documents near Dijiel, about 25 miles north of Baghdad.

Al Jazeera aired a separate video claiming 18 captured Iraqi national guardsmen would be killed unless detained Sadr aide Hazem Aaraji was freed within 48 hours. Men in military dress were shown seated at gunpoint in the video from a group calling itself the Brigades of Mohammed bin Abdullah.

Abu Dhar Kanani, spokesman for Sadr’s Mahdi militia in Baghdad, told Al Jazeera that the militia had nothing to do with the abduction.

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