Image: French hostage.
Al Arabiya via Reuters
Bernard Planche, a French engineer, is seen with his captors in a video aired by Arab news channel Al Arabiya on Wednesday.
updated 12/29/2005 6:26:55 AM ET 2005-12-29T11:26:55

Militants on Wednesday released a video of a French engineer kidnapped in Iraq three weeks ago and denounced the “illegal French presence” in the country, the Arab news channel Al-Arabiya reported.

The video, an excerpt of which was aired on the satellite channel, showed the hostage, identified as Bernard Planche, sitting on a chair with two armed men on either side of him.

“I am sorry for everything that has happened ... I want to thank all those who are trying to help me,” Planche said. He identified himself as “Bernard” and said he worked on water projects in Baghdad.

The name of a previous unknown militant group, called “Monitoring For Iraq,” was shown in the corner of the footage.

Al-Arabiya said the militants denounced the “illegal French presence” in Iraq and demanded the withdrawal of French troops from the country, although it did not play that segment. France has not sent forces to Iraq.

Planche, an engineer working for a non-governmental organization called AACCESS, was kidnapped Dec. 5 on his way to work at a water plant in downtown Baghdad.

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