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Xinhua: Iraqi Gunmen Kidnap Seven Chinese Citizens - 2004-04-12


China's official Xinhua news agency reports gunmen in Iraq have kidnapped seven Chinese citizens.

Xinhau quoted a Chinese diplomat as saying the hostages were kidnapped in central Iraq.

Earlier Sunday, the Arabic television network Al-Jazeera reported gunmen in Iraq released eight hostages the gunmen described as assisting U.S.-led coalition forces.

A tape aired by Al-Jazeera showed one of the gunmen saying the hostages were released in response to an appeal by a Muslim clerics group. The gunman also said the hostages were released after giving assurances they will no longer cooperate with occupation forces.

The gunman on the tape described the hostages as truck drivers and specified their nationalities. Three of them are Pakistanis, two are from Turkey, one is Nepalese, one is Indian and one is Filipino.

The hostages also appeared on the Al-Jazeera tape.

An Iraqi group says it is also holding at least 30 other hostages from Bulgaria, Israel, the United States, Spain and South Korea. The group threatened to kill them unless U.S. forces end their blockade of Fallujah. There was no independent confirmation of the kidnapping.

A British citizen was released Sunday.

Meanwhile, Japanese officials say they are continuing efforts to secure the release of three Japanese hostages.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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