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Embassy confirms 8 Chinese kidnapped in Iraq
(Xinhua / Agencies)
Updated: 2005-01-18 21:17

Eight Chinese nationals were kidnapped by militants in Iraq, the Chinese Embassy in Baghdad confirmed on Tuesday.

Embassy diplomats said they were making all efforts to rescue the eight hostages, who went missing last week while travelling to Jordan.

A video grab image shows eight hostages holding Chinese passports standing before a mud brick wall along with two masked gunmen. [newsphoto]

Sources told Xinhua the Chinese, from China's southern province of Fujian, were construction workers in a project to rebuild an Iraqi plant in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf.

The sources said that the project, signed with Iraq's interim government, has nothing to do with the US-led multinational forces.

A video tape aired by the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV channel on Tuesday showed the eight hostages holding Chinese passports standing in a row, flanked by masked militants.

In the videotape, the militants threatened to kill them in 48 hours if China failed to explain why they were apparently building facilities for the Americans.

"The position of the Chinese government toward our cause was clear -- not taking part in invasion forces and their aggression against our country," said a voice on the tape, which showed masked gunmen keeping the men against a wall.

"We call on the Chinese government to clarify its position on them and other Chinese. We will kill them 48 hours after their pictures are televised unless that is done."

In a handwritten note delivered with the tape, the insurgent group calling itself the al-Numan Brigades said it abducted the men as they were on their way out of the country.

"After interrogation, we found that they are working for a Chinese construction company that is working inside American sites in Iraq," the note said.

The note indicated the group might release the hostages because China did not participate in the war.

"The movement decided to free these Chinese soon on condition that they will not go back to their work with the occupation forces. And we hope the Chinese company will not deal with these forces," the message said.

Thousands of Asians, including Chinese, are employed by private contractors working to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure and for the U.S. military.

As well as thousands of Iraqis kidnapped mostly for money, dozens of foreigners have been seized for purportedly political ends. Some have been beheaded, though many have been released.

Names of the Chinese hostages kidnapped in Iraq:

Lin Qiang (39)

Wei Wu (19)

Zhou Sunlin (18)

Lin Bin (39)

Lin Zhong (38)

Chen Qinai (37)

Zhou Sunqin (17)

Lin Xiong (34)

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