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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Iraq group 'threatens hostages'
Missing Romanians Ohanesian (left), Ion and Miscoci
The three Romanians disappeared in a Baghdad suburb
Militants in Iraq have threatened to kill three Romanian journalists unless Romania pulls its troops out of the country, al-Jazeera has reported.

The Arabic broadcaster showed new video footage of two men and a woman resembling the missing journalists.

In it, the militants gave the Romanian government four days to withdraw its forces from Iraq or they would kill the hostages, the station said.

The three journalists and their translator disappeared last month.

The black-and-white video, which cannot authenticated, appears to show Marie Jeanne Ion, Sorin Dumitru Miscoci and Ovidiu Ohanesian sitting cross-legged with their hands chained, against a black background.

A hand is seen on the right pointing a pistol at them.

The woman is seen talking and gesturing to the camera, but al-Jazeera did not broadcast the audio.

The station said she asked the Romanian people to pressure the government to implement the kidnappers' demands.

'Very serious now'

The footage then shows a man who appears to be their Iraqi-American translator Mohammed Monaf, sitting alone with his hands also bound.

Gunmen either side of him are seen pointing an automatic rifle and a pistol at his head.

He is also talking, but there is no sound. Al-Jazeera said he was appealing to US President George W Bush to intervene to help secure their release.

This problem is becoming very serious now. Only the Romanian authorities can hope to win the journalists their freedom
Petre Mihai Bacanu
Libera newspaper
It is not clear whether the death threat applies to him.

A logo of a previously unknown group, the Muadh ibn Jabal Brigades, appears in the corner.

Romanian President Traian Basescu has cut short a visit to neighbouring Moldova to consult the Romanian crisis team dealing with the hostage-taking.

Romania has 800 troops in Iraq.

Petre Mihai Bacanu, managing director of Romania Libera's newspaper, told the Associated Press news agency that one of the men appeared to be his employee, Ovidiu Ohanesian.

"It's Ovidiu on the tape. This problem is becoming very serious now. Only the Romanian authorities can hope to win the journalists their freedom," he said.

Reporter Marie Jeanne Ion and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci work for Prima TV.

The four were seized on 28 March during a visit by Mr Basescu to Iraq. They appeared in an earlier video broadcast on al-Jazeera on 30 March.


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