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Al-Jazeera: 11 Russians Kidnapped in Iraq - 2004-04-13


The Arabic television network Al-Jazeera reports 11 Russian citizens are missing and are presumed to have been kidnapped in Iraq -- as foreigners come under continued threat in the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, China's official Xinhua news agency reports the seven Chinese citizens held hostage in the Iraqi city of Fallujah have been released.

Xinhua reported Monday the seven hostages are safe and are being looked after by an Islamic clerics organization.

Xinhua previously said the seven Chinese are laborers who entered Iraq from Jordan Sunday.

In other news, a self-proclaimed mediator working for the release of three Japanese hostages in Iraq says their kidnappers have agreed not to execute them.

An Iraqi group calling itself the "Mujahedeen Brigades" had threatened to execute the Japanese hostages if Tokyo did not meet a late afternoon Tuesday deadline (Iraqi time) to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

The hostages are believed in the custody of militants near Fallujah.

In Tokyo Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi asked visiting Turkish Prime Minister Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for help in efforts to get the three Japanese hostages released.

And Czech officials say at least two Czech journalists in Iraq may have been kidnapped. A spokesman for Czech Television said the journalists were last heard from on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq said Monday two U.S. soldiers and seven American contractors are missing and presumed kidnapped in the war-torn country.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said the contractors work for Kellog, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Haliburton Corporation -- the energy and services giant that has major contracts for the U.S. military in Iraq.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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