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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Macedonian Iraq hostages killed
US forces at a roadblock north of Baghdad
Militants want to end Iraq's co-operation with US-led forces
The authorities in Macedonia have confirmed the deaths of three of its nationals taken hostage in Iraq.

The workers - Dalibor Lazarevski, Zoran Naskovski and Dragan Markovic - were kidnapped on 21 August near Baghdad.

Last week, al-Jazeera TV station reported the claim of a militant Iraqi group that it had killed the hostages.

Militants have kidnapped and killed more than 30 foreigners in Iraq in a campaign to force their governments to halt co-operation with US-led forces.

Macedonia has 32 soldiers in Iraq.

'Video proof'

Ljube Lazarevski, the father of 25-year-old Dalibor Lazarevski, said he had been informed of the deaths by the Macedonian prime minister, Hari Kostov, and the interior minister, Siljan Avramovski.

A Macedonian government team visited the headquarters of the al-Jazeera Arabic TV station in Qatar on Thursday to examine a videotape purporting to show proof of the deaths.

Al-Jazeera broadcast a statement by the militant group called the Islamic Army in Iraq which claimed it had killed two Macedonians whom it accused of spying for the US.

The circumstances surrounding the death of the third man are unclear.

The three Macedonians were builders for the United Arab Emirates-based Soufan Engineering, catering to the needs of the US military and its private contractors.

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