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Indian hostage appeals for help
July 22, 2004 16:58 IST
Last Updated: July 22, 2004 18:40 IST
One of the three Indian hostages in Iraq today said they were being held captives as their abductors thought that they were helping Americans.
Televison channels showed a new tape in which Tilak Raj is heard as saying that they were forcibly sent to Iraq.
"We are three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian," he said, adding that "we are being given food and water and we are sitting comfortably."
"Hamare ko pakad ke rakha hai ki hum America ka saath de rahen hain. Hamari gaadiyan bhi chheen lee hain (we have been held hostages because they think we are helping Americans. They have taken away our vehicles also)," he said.
All seven are truck drivers abducted by a group calling itself 'Black Flags'.
In an earlier video broadcast over a local Arabic satellite channel, the kidnappers had threatened to kill one hostage every 72 hours unless their Kuwaiti employers withdrew from Iraq.
India's external affairs minister Natwar Singh, in Islamabad attending the SAARC summit, has condemned the abduction and said the government was doing all in its power to secure the release of the hostages.
The new video footage also shows an appeal by the Egyptian hostage, report agencies.
"We want to go home, please help us so that we are not cut up into pieces because then you would bear the guilt of orphaning our children," says a burly bearded man in white shirt standing against a white background in the video obtained by AFP.
Sweating profusely and begging to be allowed to return home to his family, he says: "We work for KGL and we were captured in, yes ... we were arrested ... please release us, and I swear to God that aiding the Americans is wrong. We want to go back home, we entered Kuwait in an illegal way, I swear to God. Let the Egyptians know that I came (to Kuwait) on a three-month visa and they forced us to work with the Americans and the Jews."
Recounting the abduction, he says: "The sheikhs and the powerful bosses took us and left our trailers in one place. They led us to another place, where they are feeding us and providing us with water while they decide whether we are guilty."
On Monday, Pakistan refused to bow to threats by armed insurgents to behead a Pakistani laborer held hostage in Iraq unless Islamabad shut down its mission in Iraq.
Another kidnapped trucker from Egypt was released two days ago after the Saudi company that employed him suspended its activities in Iraq, while a Filipino truck driver was freed Tuesday after Manila agreed to withdraw its forces from Iraq.
A South Korean was beheaded after Seoul rejected the demand to pull out its contingent from Iraq. Al-Jazeera television network broadcast the video Sunday, in which the hostage cries in English, "Please get out of here. I don't want to die... Your life is important, but my life is important."