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New threat to kill China hostages


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Chinese hostage-taking pulls China into a problem it has largely avoided.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A group calling itself "The Islamic Resistance Movement," has issued a new video calling for the Chinese government to issue a statement saying it will not allow its citizens to work for Americans in Iraq, threatening to kill eight Chinese hostages.

The men were shown on a video from the Islamic group that surfaced Tuesday saying the men had been taken captive.

An official in China's embassy in Baghdad confirmed the men were from China, but said they apparently never worked in Iraq, and probably had been trying to leave Iraq after they were unable to find jobs.

Although about 40 Chinese nationals work in Iraq, the official said no Chinese companies had ever been contracted with the U.S. government in that country.

In Friday's video, an Arabic speaker said: "We would like to inform you that the Chinese ambassador has defended his position in Iraq and said that he is not working with the Americans."

He added: "Iraq is a battlefield and no mercy will be given to those who work with our enemies ... the occupiers.

"We ask that your government to issue a statement forbidding the Chinese citizens from entering Iraq and this will be considered as a positive gesture and will make us look mercifully on these hostages," the speaker continued.

Earlier in the week, the group said it had taken the men hostage as they were trying to leave Iraq. (Full story)

"After interrogating them, we learned that they are Chinese working for a Chinese contracting company in Iraq. This company is carrying out the task of rebuilding one of the American bases."

The video showed the men in front of a wall, with four standing and four kneeling, and hooded guards standing on each side.

The camera zoomed in for a close look at each passport, which indicated three of the hostages were teenagers -- 17, 18 and 19 years old.

CNN's Kianne Sadeq and Kevin Flower in Baghdad contributed to this report


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