An Iraqi insurgent umbrella group linked to al-Qaida claimed yesterday it had kidnapped two US soldiers as well as four Russian Embassy workers.
"Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahedeen Shura Council kidnapped the two American soldiers near Youssifiya," the group said in a statement posted on an Islamic website.
In a second statement issued minutes later, the same group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of four Russian Embassy workers and the killing of a fifth in Baghdad on June 3.
"God has enabled the lions of monotheism to arrest four Russian diplomats in Iraq and kill the fifth," said the second statement, which appeared on the same Islamic website.
Gunmen kidnapped the four Russian Embassy workers not far from the embassy in west Baghdad's Mansour district after firing on their car and killing another embassy employee.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council is a grouping of several Iraqi insurgent forces, including al-Qaida in Iraq, whose former leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi helped create the council in January apparently to give an Iraqi face to his movement, made up mainly of foreign fighters.
In the statement, the council taunted US forces for failing to find the two American soldiers, who went missing on Friday during an attack on their checkpoint in a Sunni district, south of Baghdad, that killed one of their comrades.
"The events reconfirm the weakness of the alleged American intelligence and its going astray in Iraq," the statement said.
"The American military has launched a campaign of raids using armour and equipment, in the region around the incident, but the army of 'the strongest nation in the world' retreated in defeat and disgrace," the statement said.
The posting could not be authenticated, but it appeared on a website known for publishing messages from insurgent groups in Iraq.
Both statements were signed by the information committee of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, a body that groups five Iraqi insurgent organizations including al-Qaida in Iraq.
The US Defence Department has identified the missing men as private first-class Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and private first-class Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon.
The statement dealing with the Russians gave the Moscow government 48 hours to withdraw from Chechnya and to release all "our sisters and brothers in the Russian prisons."
Source: China Daily