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Iraq Kidnappers Extend Deadline

(RFE/RL) 8 December 2005 -- Kidnappers in Iraq are reported to have extended by 48 hours their deadline to execute four Christian peace campaigners unless Iraqi detainees are freed.

The Al-Jazeera television channel said the militant group, which had threatened to kill the captives today, had extended the deadline until 10 December.

Al-Jazeera broadcast unverified video images of two presumed hostages whose faces were not shown.

In a video provided to the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah news stations, a cleric detained in Great Britain has appealed to the Swords of Righteousness Brigades to release the four men -- two Canadians, a Briton, and an American -- who were abducted on 26 November in Baghdad.

Abu Qatada, considered by authorities to be a spiritual leader of Al-Qaeda in Europe, said the hostages should not be punished because of the policies of their governments. Abu Qatada is being held indefinitely in Britain over alleged links to terrorism.

(news agencies)

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