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Militants threaten to behead South Korean hostage

(CNN) -- The Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape Sunday night of a man identified as a South Korean hostage whose captors threatened to behead him unless his government quits the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq.

On the videotape the man cried 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 confirmed that the man shown in the videotape is Kim Sun-il, 33, who works for a trading company. It was not known when or how he was taken hostage.

The Foreign Ministry planned an emergency meeting Monday morning to discuss Seoul's reaction to the development and steps to take toward Kim's release.

An official with the South Korean Embassy in Washington said South Korea has about 600 troops in the country and plans to send another 3,000.

The deployment will make South Korea the third-largest contributor to coalition forces, 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."

In Baghdad, South Korea's ambassador to Iraq said he was aware of the tape and had no comment.

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.

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 Sunday morning 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.

Other developments

  • 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.

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