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Iraq Transition

Threats in new German hostage tape

Fifteen bodies found shot in Baghdad

Jill Carroll asks for the release of female Iraqi prisoners, according to Al-Jazeera, which aired the video.


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(CNN) -- Iraqi insurgents have released a second videotape showing two kidnapped German engineers.

According to the Arabic language network Al-Jazeera, which aired the tape, the insurgents threatened to kill the two men unless the German government cut ties with Iraq and German companies pulled out of the country.

The hostages were surrounded by masked, armed men in a videotape aired Tuesday evening on the Qatar-based satellite network.

The tape bore an electronic time stamp of January 29, and on it, their captors threatened to kill the men in 72 hours if their demands were not met, Al-Jazeera said.

CNN could not independently verify the tape's authenticity.

The captors, who call themselves the "Supporters of God's Unity and Sunna Brigades," called on all German companies to cut ties with Iraq and for the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to close its embassy in Baghdad.

Germany's Foreign Office responded by calling the pictures "proof of a crime that has no regard for life."

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the agency said Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was being "briefed continuously" on the situation and would brief the Cabinet on Wednesday.

The men, identified in the German media as Rene Braunlich and Thomas Nitzschke, were kidnapped last week.

They were working at a detergent factory on the grounds of the Beiji oil refinery, north of Baghdad, at the time.

In an earlier video, the two men asked German officials to take steps to secure their release.

Reporters group seeks release of sobbing hostage

A day after a video of a U.S. journalist held hostage in Iraq aired on Al-Jazeera, a journalists watchdog group said it plans to work with the Arabic-language media to help gain Jill Carroll's release.

Reporters Without Borders called the videotape of the sobbing journalist "extremely disturbing to watch" but said Tuesday that it was "an encouraging sign, because it proves that Carroll is still alive."

The group asked for support from all news organizations.

"We appeal to news media throughout the world, especially the Arab world, and to Muslim leaders to continue speaking out in support of Carroll," the group said, in a news release.

Muslims and non-Muslims have called for Carroll's release. And Reporters Without Borders helped organize a demonstration in Paris, France, on January 20 attended by a French female reporter held hostage last year, Florence Aubenas.

The group said two of its representatives soon will travel to the network headquarters of Al-Jazeera in Doha, Qatar, and Al-Arabiya in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, "to help relaunch the campaign together with the Arab media."

According to an Al-Jazeera anchor, Carroll exhorts people to urge the U.S. military and the Iraqi Interior Ministry to release female prisoners. (Watch for clues about what the video might mean -- 4:29)

The network broadcast the images but did not air the sound.

The tape was dated January 28 and bore the logo of the Brigades of Vengeance, the group that claimed responsibility for Carroll's January 7 abduction. CNN has no way to confirm when or where the video was shot.

Her captors had threatened to kill her unless all female prisoners were freed. No word on her fate has emerged since the group issued a 72-hour deadline in a previous video that aired January 17.

Carroll, a freelance reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped as she was traveling to a meeting with a Sunni Arab politician, Adnan al-Dulaimi. Her interpreter was shot dead.

Both of Carroll's parents have appealed for her release in CNN interviews. Her father, Jim Carroll, canceled planned appearances on Arab television networks after Monday's video aired and did not plan any further statements.

Father of another hostage speaks

Dalip Singh Sooden, whose son also is being held hostage in Iraq, went to the airwaves Tuesday to ask for his release.

The plea came three days after Al-Jazeera aired footage of humanitarian worker Harmeet Singh Sooden and three fellow members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams.

A group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade kidnapped Sooden, a Canadian, along with Canadian James Loney, American Tom Fox and Briton Norman Kember on November 26.

Speaking on Al-Jazeera, Dalip Singh Sooden stressed that his son was a peace-loving man who went to Iraq only to help the citizenry.

"I appeal for the captives of my son and his three friends to release them unharmed. I hope my appeal will be answered," Sooden said.

Al-Jazeera has reported that the Swords of Righteousness Brigade issued a statement that accompanied the Saturday video, saying this is the "last chance" for the United States to meet its demand that all Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody be released.

Police find 15 bodies in Baghdad

The bodies of 15 people who were blindfolded and shot in the head were found in Baghdad on Tuesday, police said.

Officials said they were trying to identify those killed but assumed they were Iraqis.

Eleven of the bodies were found in the back of a pickup. The victims seemed to be in their early 20s and appeared to have been tortured, police said.

Three of the other bodies were found in the southeastern neighborhood of Rustumiye, while one corpse was found just outside of the Sadr City district, in the northeastern section of the capital.

British death toll at 100

An explosion in the southern province of Basra killed a British soldier, the 100th member of the United Kingdom's armed forces to die in the Iraq war, according to a Defense Ministry statement.

The soldier killed Tuesday morning was a member of the 7th Armored Brigade. Three other soldiers were wounded.

Another soldier in the same unit died Monday morning after his patrol came under fire in Maysan province. (Full story)

Six killed in Diyala province

Six Iraqis were killed in religiously diverse Diyala province on Tuesday.

Gunmen killed three members of a Sunni cleric's family at their home in what officials suspect was the latest case of sectarian violence.

A mixed, volatile province northeast of Baghdad, Diyala has endured a great deal of violence between Sunni and Shiite Arabs. Baquba, its capital, and other towns in the region have become accustomed to the warfare between religious groups.

Sheikh Qassem Daham arrived at his home in Muqtadiya, north of Baquba, after nighttime prayers on Monday to find his wife and two sons -- ages 5 and 2 -- shot dead. The cleric and a spokesman at Diyala's Joint Coordination Center confirmed the incident.

Daham said that it was "God's will" that his family had died.

In Buhriz, south of Baquba, armed gunmen killed three Iraqi soldiers and wounded three others, the coordination center said.

Other developments

  • ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and video journalist Doug Vogt arrived late Tuesday afternoon at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and were transferred to a brain injury center there. Woodruff, 44, and Vogt, 46, were initially taken to a military hospital in Germany after they were seriously wounded Sunday in a roadside bombing just north of Baghdad. (Full story)
  • The U.S. military is increasing its medical surveillance of troops in Iraq, looking for possible infections and flu-like illnesses that could be related to avian flu, a Pentagon official said Tuesday. So far there has been no evidence of either the deadly bird flu or any unusual increase in influenza among U.S. troops, the official said. The Iraqi Health Ministry confirmed Monday that a 15-year-old girl died last month after being infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu. (Full story)
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Octavia Nasr contributed to this report.

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