Insurgents show killing of 11 Iraqi soldiers

Hostages beheaded, shot for cooperating with U.S.

Polish woman kidnapped

October 29, 2004|By Monte Morin | Monte Morin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi insurgents released grisly video yesterday showing the beheading and execution-style shooting of 11 Iraqi soldiers, men the group said were abducted south of Baghdad this week as revenge for "guarding the crusader American troops."

Another video released by a different group showed the latest foreigner to be kidnapped: a Polish woman threatened by masked insurgents holding a pistol to her head. The group demanded that Poland withdraw its troops from Iraq in exchange for the hostage's life.

The chilling videotapes were broadcast as the deadline passed for a young Japanese traveler who was abducted by militants. Although the government of Japan has refused to meet a demand to pull its troops out of Iraq, Tokyo sent an envoy to Amman, Jordan, yesterday to seek the hostage's release.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military reported the deaths of two American soldiers: one who died in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Balad, north of Baghdad, and another killed when insurgents attacked an Army patrol in the capital with a car bomb.

In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, hospital officials reported two Iraqis were killed in clashes of U.S. soldiers and insurgents.

In a statement posted on the Internet, the Ansar al Sunna Army claimed responsibility for the deaths of the 11 Iraqi soldiers, abducted between Hillah and Baghdad. Iraqi defense and Interior officials could not say whether the troops, who wore camouflage pants and T-shirts, were members of the Iraqi National Guard.

Warning to military

"After investigating with them and [hearing] their confessions, it turned out that this group was responsible for guarding the crusader American troops," the insurgents' statement said. "A call to the army and police: Repent to God ... abandon your weapons and go home and beware of supporting the apostate Crusaders or their followers, the Iraqi government, or else you will only find death."

The deaths were graphically recorded. One Iraqi was beheaded; the others were shot in the head while squatting, hands bound behind their backs.

The killings are part of the increasingly brutal campaign by insurgents to target Iraqi police and military personnel in the hope of destabilizing the government before scheduled elections in January. The video's release came five days after insurgents abducted and executed about 50 Iraqi Army soldiers near the Iranian border.

The group that took responsibility for the soldiers' deaths has also claimed responsibility for the killing of 12 Nepalese who were abducted in August.

In the videotape of the Polish hostage, which was aired by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, the middle-age woman sits before a black flag and between two masked men as one of them holds a pistol to her head. The woman states that she has worked in Iraq for a long time and calls for the withdrawal of Polish troops and the release of Iraqi female prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison.

Leszek Adamiec, a former Polish consul in Iraq who worked with the abducted woman, identified her for the private Radio Zet station as Teresa Borcz-Kalifa. He said she worked with him at the Polish Embassy in Iraq translating and accepting visa applications from Iraqis.

Refusal to withdraw

Polish officials said they would not withdraw their nation's troops from Iraq.

President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who was in Belgium yesterday, told TVN 24, a Polish television network: "We are not going to withdraw from Iraq and this is a clear answer. We have been saying it for months. ... Today withdrawing from Iraq would be surrendering to a dictate by terrorists."

Poland leads a 6,000-member multination division in south-central Iraq that includes about 2,400 of its own troops. The Polish government plans to scale down its presence after the Iraqi elections. Poland has lost 13 soldiers in Iraq.

Japanese officials were trying to gain the release of Japanese tourist Shosei Koda, 24. Followers of Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have claimed responsibility for kidnapping Koda.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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