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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
New video shows German hostages
Rene Braeunlich (left) and Thomas Nitzschke
The two men have been held for more than two months
Two German engineers abducted in Iraq have made a desperate appeal for help in the first video released by their captors since the end of January.

"We're at the end of our nerves, please help us, we can't take it any more," said Thomas Nitzschke, speaking directly into the camera.

He was shown beside Rene Braeunlich, both bearded and wearing T-shirts.

In an internet statement, their captors issued a threat to kill them if US forces did not release Iraqi prisoners.

Describing the men as "German agents", they said they would be killed if men and women were not freed from the "occupation prisons".

Germany, they added, should stop "all support rendered to the Americans and their supporters".

No deadline was given. The video released in January was accompanied by a similar ultimatum, setting a three-day deadline.

The new video, posted on the internet on Sunday, bears a time signature of 28 March.

Contact established

Mr Braeunlich's mother, Ingeborg, Braeunlich said from Leipzig she was relieved to find out that her son was still alive but upset to see "that they are afraid".

The two engineers were kidnapped near an oil refinery compound in northern Iraq on 24 January by a group calling itself Ansar al-Tawhid wa al-Sunnah.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the kidnapping.

"I can assure you that we will do everything possible within our power to save the life of the hostages and to get the hostages back and free to Germany," she told reporters on Sunday.

Germany made contact with the kidnappers after video released in January but did not give any details.

Dozens of foreign hostages are being held in Iraq, as well as hundreds of Iraqi citizens seized by insurgents and criminal gangs.

Watch a short clip of their appeal

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