clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Militants kill 11 Iraqi troops, take Polish woman hostage

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A grisly video released Thursday showed militants killing 11 Iraqi troops held hostage for days, beheading one, then shooting the others execution-style. Another group released a video of a kidnapped Polish woman, demanding Warsaw pull its troops from Iraq.

The latest kidnapping dramas came as the deadline wound down for a Japanese hostage who was shown in a video aired Tuesday. His captors — said to be the al-Qaida-linked militant group of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — threatened to behead him in 48 hours unless Japan withdraws its troops — a demand rejected by Tokyo.

CARE International announced Thursday it has closed its operations in Iraq, in an appeal for the release of its kidnapped director there. Margaret Hassan, 59, a citizen of Britain, Ireland and Iraq, was abducted Oct. 19.

In new violence Thursday, a car bomb exploded Thursday in southern Baghdad, killing a U.S. soldier and at least one Iraqi civilian and wounding two other American soldiers, the U.S. military said. Another U.S. soldier was killed when insurgents attacked his patrol south of Balad, about 40 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.

At least 1,110 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The killings of the 11 Iraqi National Guardsmen were claimed by a group called the Ansar al-Sunnah Army.

In the video posted on the group's Web site, each man is seen reading out his name and his unit. One man was then forced to the floor, and a militant pulled his head by the hair and cut off his head. A gunman then shot the others one by one as they knelt on the ground, their arms bound. Some of the men cringed as they heard the shots. The gunman then emptied a full clip into the bodies.

Insurgents have regularly targeted Iraqi security forces, blaming them for working with Americans. On Saturday, insurgents ambushed and killed 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers as they headed home from a U.S. training camp northeast of Baghdad.

A voiceover on Thursday's video — identified as that of the "Emir al-Jamaa," or head of the group — addressed all members of Iraq's security forces. "Repent to God. ... Abandon your weapons and go home and beware of supporting the apostate Crusaders or their followers, the Iraqi government, or else you will only find death," it said.

A statement on the Web site said: "We will not forget about the blood of our elderly, women and children that are shed daily in Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi and elsewhere on your hands and the hands of those you work with."

It said the 11 slain men were "responsible for guarding the Crusader American troops in the Radwaniya area" in Baghdad.

The Ansar al-Sunnah Army announced Tuesday that it had captured the men on the highway between Baghdad and Hillah, showing their photos on its Web site. It did not say when they were siezed. The movement has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks and hostage takings, including the slaying of 12 Nepalese hostages.

The Pole was the latest foreign woman to be abducted in Iraq. Hassan, the head of CARE International in Iraq, was snatched from her car last week and in a video aired Wednesday night was seen pleading for the withdrawal of British troops and the release of Iraq women prisoners.

The video Thursday of the Polish hostage, aired on Al-Jazeera television, showed a middle-aged woman with gray hair and dressed in a polka-dotted blouse sitting in front of two masked gunmen, one of whom was pointing a pistol at her head.

The woman was identified as Teresa Borcz-Kalifa, aged about 60, by one of her former superiors at the Polish Embassy in Baghdad, where she worked in the 1990s. The superior, Leszek Adamiec, told Poland's private Radio Zet that Borcz-Kalifa worked in the consular section until 1994.

Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said the woman, a longtime resident with Iraqi citizenship, was believed to have been abducted Wednesday night from her home in Baghdad. In Warsaw, Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said she was a Polish citizen who is married to an Iraqi.

Her abduction was claimed by a group called the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Fundamentalist Brigades.

Her voice was not audible on the tape, but Al-Jazeera said she urged Polish troops to leave the country and for U.S. and Iraqi authorities to release all female detainees from the Abu Ghraib prison. Ahmed al-Sheikh, Al-Jazeera's editor-in-chief, said the kidnappers did not mention a specific death threat or give a deadline.

President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Poland would not surrender "to the dictate of terrorists" by meeting the demands. Poland commands some 6,000 troops from 15 nations — including some 2,400 from Poland — in the Babil, Karbala and Wasit provinces south of Baghdad.

The woman is the third Pole to be taken hostage in Iraq. A Polish engineer was held for about a week in June, along with three Italians, before being freed. A Polish co-worker taken at the same time escaped moments after capture.

Several groups of hostage-takers have demanded the release of women prisoners in Iraq — most notably, al-Zarqawi's group in the abduction of two Americans and a Briton last month. All three men were beheaded.

Al-Zarqawi's group, Al-Qaida in Iraq, said it was holding Shosei Koda, a 24-year-old Japanese tourist who appeared in a video Tuesday saying he would be beheaded in 48 hours unless Japan pulled out of Iraq. No specific time for the deadline's end Thursday was given.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has rejected the demand, said his government was "calling on other countries and those who sympathetic to Japan, and the Iraqi people" to help.