Peace Activists Kidnapped In Iraq
Al-Jazeera broadcast an insurgent video Tuesday showing four peace activists taken hostage in Iraq, with a previously unknown group claiming responsibility for the kidnappings.
The Swords of Righteousness Brigade said the four were spies working undercover as Christian peace activists, Al-Jazeera said. The station said it could not verify any of the information on the tape. The aid group Christian Peacemaker Teams has confirmed that four of its members were taken hostage Saturday. German TV broadcast photos Tuesday showing a blindfolded German woman being led away by armed captors in Iraq. Six Iranian pilgrims, meanwhile, were abducted by gunmen north of Baghdad. The pictures of Susanne Osthoff were taken from a video in which her captors demanded that Germany stop any dealings with Iraq's government, according to Germany's ARD television. Germany has ruled out sending troops to Iraq and opposed the U.S.-led war. Two U.S. soldiers assigned to Task Force Baghdad were killed when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb north of the capital, the U.S. command said. At least 2,109 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. A suicide car bomber killed eight Iraqi soldiers and wounded five more when he drove into an army patrol Tuesday in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, police Lt. Ali Hussein said. A U.S. Army medical helicopter helped evacuate the wounded, he added. President Bush told reporters in El Paso, Texas, he would make decisions about U.S. troop levels in Iraq based on the advice of his military commanders. "If they tell me the Iraqis are ready to take more and more responsibility and that we'll be able to bring some Americans home, I will do that," the president said. "It's their recommendation." Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who manages the training of Iraqi security forces, told National Public Radio on Tuesday that 212,000 people in the police and army are trained and equipped, although he suggested that more needed to be done.