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Germany

Militants Threaten to Kill German Hostages

A militant group holding two German hostages in Iraq issued what they called their final ultimatum before killing the captives unless Berlin met their demands, Al Arabiya television said Monday.

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In Leipzig, people lit candles to express solidarity with the hostages

"The group, Ansar al-Tawheed wal Sunnah (Followers of Unity and Prophetic Tradition), threatened to kill the two hostages held in Iraq if the government does not give in to the demands of the group," said the channel's presenter. "The group said that this is a last warning before they kill the two hostages," she said, without giving details over the length of the ultimatum.

The video was a "shocking display of human humiliation," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented from Jerusalem, where he has been meeting with Israeli government members. He said the German government would do everything in its power to bring the hostage-taking to a good end. The foreign ministry crisis group would begin evaluating the video Monday night, he said.

"I can only affirm that we are continuing our efforts to (bring) them both to safety as quickly as possible. We are doing what we can," Reuters quoted him as saying.

Entführer drohen mit Ermordung der Geiseln aus Leipzig

The video of Rene Bräunlich (l) and Thomas Nitzschke

In the video, Rene Bräunlich and Thomas Nitzschke were shown sitting on the floor in front of three masked men holding guns. A fourth man read the kidnappers' text.

The kidnappers had issued a 72-hour deadline on Jan. 31, saying the two men would be executed unless Germany met their demands. Monday's video was the first news of the men since then.

In earlier videos, the kidnappers demanded Germany break off all contacts to Iraq. They want Germany's embassy in Baghdad closed, and cooperation with the Iraqi government stopped, and German companies working in Iraq to pull out. Germany has rejected the demands.

The two engineers from the eastern Germany city of Leipzig were kidnapped on Jan. 24 in the northern Iraqi city on Baiji, where they were working on an oil refinery compound.

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