Iraq: Al Qaeda threatens to behead Korean hostage within 24 hours
The Arab satellite TV network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape Sunday purportedly from al-Qaeda-linked cell showing a South Korean hostage begging for his life and pleading with his government to withdraw forces from Iraq.
The kidnappers, who identified themselves as belonging to a group led by Jordanian-born activist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, gave South Korea 24 hours to meet its demand that Korean troops leave Iraq or "we will send you the head of this Korean."
"Korean soldiers, please get out of here," the man screamed in English. "I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I know that your life is important, but my life is important."
South Korean media identified the hostage as Kim Sun-il, 33, an employee of South Korea's Gana General Trading, Co., a supplier for the U.S. military.
South Korean government officials held an emergency meeting in Seoul on Monday, and the deputy foreign minister stated the nation will not change its plan to deploy 3,000 troops beginning in August to assist the U.S.-led occupation.
"There is no change in the government's spirit and position that it will send troops to Iraq to help establish peace and rebuild Iraq," Choi Young-jin said at a news conference, according to The AP.
Kim was abducted June 17 while making a delivery in the city of Fallujah, Choi said. South Korean television station YTN said Kim had been in Iraq for about eight months.
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said the government will campaign for the hostage's release.
"The government will closely work with the U.S. military command in Iraq and international religious and human rights organizations to get the Korean hostage released as soon as possible," Ban said in Qingdao, China, where he was attending a summit of Asian foreign ministers. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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