Monday, May 14, 2007

US confirms GIs in AQ hands. AQ issues taunts.

Qaeda tells US to stop hunt for missing soldiers.
An Al-Qaeda group demanded on Monday that the US military halt its hunt for three US soldiers it is believed to be holding if the troops are to remain safe, according to an Internet statement.

"Your soldiers are in our hands. If you want them safe, do not search for them," the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq, an alliance of Sunni groups led by Al-Qaeda, said in the statement.

The three soldiers went missing early Saturday after gunmen ambushed their patrol, killing four soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter travelling with them, near the town of Mahmudiyah, 30 kilometres south of Baghdad.

The US military confirmed on Monday that it believes the three have been kidnapped by militants loyal to Al-Qaeda.

"At this time, we believe they were abducted by terrorists belonging to Al-Qaeda or an affiliated group and this assessment is based on highly credible intelligence information," said spokesman Major General William Caldwell.

The search continues.