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Abducted aid worker pleads for life in new video

In separate case, Japan resists hostage demands in Iraq

Margaret Hassan is seen in a video aired Wednesday on the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera.
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(CNN) -- Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped director of CARE International in Iraq, again pleaded for her life in a videotape that aired Wednesday on the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera, urging Britons to pressure Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from the country.

In the video from her captors, Hassan can be seen, but her pleas were not heard. However, an anchor for Al-Jazeera described the contents of her message.

Hassan also called for the release of all female prisoners in Iraq and urged CARE's board of directors to end operations in Iraq -- something the humanitarian aid group already has done since she was taken captive last week.

It was the first message from Hassan since Friday.

In the earlier message, Hassan broke down in tears and also urged Blair to pull troops from Iraq.

Hassan was abducted October 19 shortly after arriving at her Baghdad office. Her abductors have made no demands or given an explanation why she was kidnapped.

In another hostage case, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday that his nation's troops would remain in Iraq despite threats from insurgents there to kill a Japanese captive.

An Islamic Web site used by a group led by militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi showed video of what it claimed was a member of Japan's military in its custody. The group threatened to behead the man unless Japan agreed to withdraw its troops from Iraq within 48 hours.

Koizumi told Cabinet ministers that Japan's 550-contingent force would remain in Iraq, where it has been participating in humanitarian missions. (Full story)

Two senior Iraqi politicians killed

An Islamic militant group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the killing of an Iraqi diplomat in Baghdad, according to a statement broadcast Wednesday.

Qusay Mahdi Saleh, the former Iraqi chief of mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad's Adamiya neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, Iraqi police said.

In a statement broadcast on the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera, a group calling itself The Islamic Army claimed responsibility for the attack.

The same group claimed to have kidnapped and killed an Italian journalist in Iraq in August and claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two French journalists the same month. The French journalists are still believed to be hostages.

Saleh was driving his car near his Baghdad home when he was shot by gunmen in another vehicle, said Capt. Karim Sami, an Iraqi police spokesman.

Iraqi police Col. Adnan Abdul Rahman said Saleh was Iraq's ambassador to the UAE under Saddam Hussein's government, but was not the current ambassador. A senior UAE official said Saleh returned to Iraq about two weeks ago.

His death was one of two political killings reported Wednesday in Baghdad.

Subhi al-Ayesh, a member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) considered an authority on the insurgent-held city of Falluja, was killed in another drive-by shooting, an INC official said Wednesday.

Al-Ayesh, a Sunni from Falluja, was the INC's point man for western Iraqi issues, INC spokesman Entifadh Qanbar said.

Qanbar attributed the killing to "Baathists and remnants of the Saddam regime."

Other developments

  • A contingent of British troops redeployed Wednesday north to Babil province from the southern city of Basra, a move that is expected to free up U.S. forces in fights against the insurgency. About 850 British personnel -- 550 combat soldiers and 300 support from the Black Watch regiment -- are redeploying. (Full story)
  • U.S.-led multinational forces issued a response Wednesday regarding the weekend massacre of 44 Iraqi National Guard members, saying the terrorists who committed the killings -- and "no one else" -- should be held "fully accountable" for the act. The statement was a response to Allawi, who said the massacre resulted from major neglect by "some multinational forces."
  • Iraqi police commandos and multinational forces detained 22 people Wednesday in the northern city of Mosul. "The Special Police Commando Battalion was brought to Mosul by Ninevah Gov. Duraid Kashmoula to assist Iraqi security forces in eliminating the anti-Iraqi elements operating in the city of Mosul," a U.S. military statement said. No further information was available.
  • The United States has failed to guard against torture and inhuman behavior since launching its war on terror after September 11, 2001, Amnesty International said Wednesday. "The war mentality the government has adopted has not been matched with a commitment to the laws of war and it has discarded fundamental human rights principles along the way," the agency said. (Full story)
  • Two car bomb attacks targeting U.S. military convoys northwest of Baquba killed a soldier, wounded another and left three civilians hurt Wednesday, American military officials said.
  • A Democratic official said U.S. Defense Department officials who have submitted a request to the White House estimate that the Bush administration will ask for about $70 billion more next year to finance wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and operations against terrorism. An exact amount won't be known until the request is made to Congress -- probably in February, officials said. (Full story)
  • A top adviser to the Saudi royal family dismissed suggestions that money from the kingdom was funding Iraq's insurgents and called reports that his government has not done enough to stop such payments "irresponsible." Adel al-Jubeir, chief foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Adbullah, said the Saudi government had taken "very strong steps" and that reports, such as those from Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, indicating Saudi Arabia was attempting to undermine U.S. interests, were not "supported by the facts." The Defense Intelligence Agency recently reported insurgents received funding from external donors, including sympathetic Saudis.

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