Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Al-Qaeda militants claim Russian hostages are dead

AP , BAGHDAD

An al-Qaeda-led Iraqi militant organization has issued an Internet statement saying the group decided to kill four Russian embassy workers after Moscow failed to meet the organization's demand to pull troops out of Chechnya.

The headline on the Web posting on Wednesday indicated the four had been killed, declaring: "God's law was implemented against the Russian diplomats."

But the text of the message said only that the "Mujahedeen Shura Council decided to carry out the death sentences."

The al-Qaeda in Iraq led Mujahedeen Shura Council, declared that Moscow "put no value on the lives of its citizens."

One Russian was killed during the June 3 attack in which the four others were taken hostage. On Monday, the council had issued a statement giving Moscow 48 hours to pull its troops out of Chechnya, the restive southern Russian region with a mainly Muslim population where militants have been fighting for independence since the early 1990s.

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