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Militants threaten to behead South Korean hostage

24-hour deadline


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South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il is shown seated in front of his captors.
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(CNN) -- A South Korean who was kidnapped Thursday in Iraq was shown on a videotape Sunday pleading for his life, with his captors threatening to behead him unless the South Korean government pulls its troops from Iraq.

The Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera broadcast the video, in which the hostage cries in English, "Please get out of here. I don't want to die ... Your life is important, but my life is important."

The South Korean Foreign Ministry in confirmed that the man shown in the videotape is Kim Sun-il, 33. He works for a trading company that had been working privately to try to secure his release.

After an emergency National Security Council meeting Monday, South Korea said it would go ahead with its planned troop dispatch despite the militants' threat to kill Kim. (Full story)

South Korea has about 600 troops in Iraq and on Friday announced plans to send another 3,000.

The deployment would make South Korea the third-largest contributor to the coalition in Iraq, after the United States and Britain. (Full story)

The video showed Kim seated in front of three men whose faces were covered with scarves.

Two of the men held rifles; the third delivered an ultimatum to South Korea's government.

"We ask the government of South Korea and the people of Korea to pull their forces out of Iraq and not to send additional forces," the man said.

"Otherwise, we will send this hostage's head back to them and, God willing, we will kill more of your troops in Iraq. And you have 24 hours, starting tonight."

Al-Jazeera's editor in chief, Ahmed al-Sheikh, said the tape was left Sunday at the network's office in Baghdad and that he verified it was authentic before broadcasting segments of it. He did not broadcast the entire tape because some of it was repetitious, he said.

The South Korean government has set up a task force and plans to send a high-level official to Baghdad to try to secure his freedom, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman also warned South Koreans not to travel to Iraq and advised those already there to leave as soon as possible.

Weekend violence scattered

Seven Iraqi police officers and 10 civilians were wounded in a 45-minute gunbattle that followed a failed attempt to assassinate Iraq's minister of health in western Baghdad, Iraqi Police Col. Azher Kamal said Sunday.

The fight began early Saturday evening when a roadside bomb exploded as a convoy carrying Iraqi Minister of Health Alaa Alwan passed by, Kamal said.

No one was injured in the explosion, but when Iraqi police rushed to the scene near the Alja'afer police station, they were attacked by a group of insurgents with small arms and grenades, Kamal said.

In Tikrit, north of Baghdad, a leading member of the City Council, Izz Aldeen Al-Bayati, was shot to death by insurgents Sunday as he was on his way into town, according to another council member. Al-Bayati's driver and bodyguard were wounded, the council member said.

In an incident Sunday morning in central Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer and four civilians were wounded when a bomb damaged a storefront near Ahrar Bridge, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

In Anbar province, a Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action Saturday while conducting security and stability operations, according to a military spokesman.

Repairs to pipelines sabotaged last week in the south of Iraq have not been completed, and the flow of crude oil from Iraq had not resumed, a coalition spokesman said Sunday.

As of late Sunday afternoon, repairs to the 42- and 48-inch pipelines were still under way, and there was no estimation as to when they would be completed, the spokesman said.

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents damaged the pipelines Tuesday and Wednesday. Exports are expected to resume when the pipelines are fixed.

CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.


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