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Germany

Reports: Deadline Has Passed for German Hostage Held in Iraq

The first deadline set by the kidnappers in Iraq of a German woman has passed, German news magazines reported Saturday.

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Is time running out for Foreign Minister Steinmeier to find a solution?

According to Der Spiegel, the kidnappers of archaelogist Susanne Osthoff, 43, and her driver stated in a video that the German government had three days to comply with their demands from the time the video was aired. After that, the hostages would be killed.

Germany's public broadcaster ARD publicized the video Tuesday night, but did not actually air it. According to Focus, quoting security sources, the deadline expired Friday morning.

Der Spiegel said it passed at 2:37 a.m. German time Friday.

Osthoff and her driver were seized on Nov. 25 in the Nineveh region of northwest Iraq.

According to Der Spiegel, the kidnappers, who call themselves "Saraja al Salasil" (storm troops of earthquakes), demanded that Germany close its embassy in Baghdad and stop training Iraqi police officers.

Geiselnahme im Irak (Videostill)

ARD only published an image from the video

In its edition to appear Monday, Focus quotes "a senior intelligence service source" as saying there was no firm news about the kidnappers or communication and no new televised message.

Attempts to co n tact kid n appers

The foreign ministry in Berlin said Saturday it was continuing its "intensive" efforts to free Osthoff, a convert to Islam who has lived in Iraq for 10 years, and her driver.

An emergency meeting was planned for Saturday.

According to the Spiegel report, the government is working with Kurdish mediators to establish contact with the kidnappers. The foreign ministry has reportedly also contacted Osthoff's Iraqi ex-husband, whose family is influential in the country's northern region.

A foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on the reports, saying that they would endanger any attempts to free the hostages.

"Unfortunately we have not been able to establish contact with the kidnappers," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters. "I admit that we'd like to be further along in the process."

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