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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
'Ten hostages captured' in Iraq
Al-Jazeera tape showing the alleged hostages
The groups has made no demands
A militant group is claiming to have seized 10 new hostages in Iraq, according to footage shown on the Arabic television channel al-Jazeera.

The group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq says the two Indonesian women, six Iraqis and two Lebanese work for an electronics firm.

There was no mention of any demands, or when or where the hostages were taken.

Meanwhile, another Lebanese hostage has been released by his captors, a Lebanese official in Baghdad said.

The charge d'affaires at the Lebanese embassy in Baghdad, Hassan Hijazi, said Imad Basila was free and "in good health".

Can we justify showing videos of hostages or groups of armed and hooded men? Is this not exactly the publicity that the terrorists seek? Should we play their game?
Iyad Allawi
Iraqi Prime Minister
More than 100 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq since April, including UK engineer Kenneth Bigley.

Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said it was "repugnant to take an innocent man such as Kenneth Bigley and to use him as a political pawn in this way".

In a speech at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies he also chided the media for giving publicity to the hostage-takers.

"We should all be asking if, by doing this, we not only make it not only harder to resolve the cases we deal with today, but invite more cases for tomorrow," Mr Allawi said.

On Thursday, the British government again ruled out any negotiations with the group holding Mr Bigley, who was taken hostage two weeks ago.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Tony Blair just isn't doing enough
M. Smith, Burton, England

The comments came a day after the release of a video showing Mr Bigley caged, and again pleading for help from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He is being held by Tawhid and Jihad, a hardline group which beheaded two Americans kidnapped with him.

No demands

"An armed group calling itself 'Islamic Army in Iraq - Western Region Command' has circulated a videotape in which it announced that it is holding 10 hostages," al-Jazeera said.

The video showed only three men - one flanked by two masked gunmen.

A Lebanese foreign ministry official told the Associated Press news agency that two Lebanese nationals had been kidnapped in Iraq.

Ken Bigley

It is not known whether the two are the same as those mentioned in the footage.

Indonesia is still investigating the reports, officials said.

"We have yet to confirm the credibility of this report but we surely will conduct a follow up query on this matter," foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa told AFP news agency.

It is not immediately clear if the militants form part of the same group - Islamic Army in Iraq - which claimed responsibility for seizing two French journalists last month.

Their kidnappers originally demanded the repeal of a French law banning the wearing of Muslim headscarves in government schools.

They have reportedly since demanded a ransom.



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