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Iraq militant video 'shows abducted US contractor'

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The man in the video is wearing what looks like a US military uniform

An Iraqi militant group has posted an internet video showing an abducted man who may be a US military contractor.

US defence officials say Issa Salomi was last seen in Baghdad on 23 January and that search and recovery efforts are under way, AP news agency reports.

In the video, the man says he has been abducted by a Shia Muslim group demanding the release of militants.

He says his abductors also want the prosecution of contractors from US security firm Blackwater.

The man - who does not identify himself - also calls for the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq before adding: "I would like to express to all the members of my family, especially my wife, my children and my friends and to assure everybody that I'm being treated kindly and I'm in good health."

Blackwater security guards who were protecting US diplomats opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad crossroads, in September 2007. Seventeen people, including women and children, were killed.

A federal judge in the US has dismissed manslaughter charges in the Blackwater shootings case, ruling that that the guards' constitutional rights had been violated and that the justice department had mishandled evidence.

'Lured'

There was no way to verify the authenticity of the video, but the Associated Press quotes a high-ranking Iraqi defence official as saying that Mr Salomi, 60, was abducted by the militant group in the central Baghdad district of Karrada.

He said Mr Salomi was of Iraqi origin, and that his abductors lured him to Karrada under the pretence of visiting distant relatives.

The man in the video is seated in a chair and wearing what looks like a US military uniform. Behind him is the black banner of the militant group, the League of the Righteous.

The same group was believed to be behind the kidnapping in Baghdad of British computer consultant Peter Moore in May 2007, along with his four bodyguards, AP says. Mr Moore was handed over to the Iraqi authorities in late December. Three of the bodyguards were killed, and the fourth is believed dead.

The US defence department said the missing contractor was from El Cajon, California.

Mr Salomi's family issued a statement through the FBI in San Diego, which said: "We are confident that everything is being done by the most capable people here and abroad to bring Issa home safely, and we all are anxiously awaiting his safe return."



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