Al-Arabiya via AFP-Getty Images
This image from the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network shows videotape of masked gunmen, one of them reading a statement, as they stand behind two seated hostages, an Egyptian and a Turk.
updated 6/2/2004 6:42:20 PM ET 2004-06-02T22:42:20

Five hostages taken in Iraq were shown in two videotapes broadcast Wednesday on Arab television. All five appeared unharmed.

In one of the tapes, three Italian men who were taken hostage April 12 were shown eating and sitting in chairs before the camera. The men were bearded and a little haggard, but they seemed not to have been physically harmed.

A fourth man kidnapped in their group, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, was executed shortly after they were taken captive last month.

In the tape, which was shown on the Al-Jazeera satellite network and immediately re-broadcast on Italian television, one of the Italians, Salvatore Stefio, addressed the camera and stated the date as Monday, May 31. He said the men were being treated well.

“He struck me as being like he was when he left, perfect, healthy. It means they haven’t lied and that they treat them well,” Stefio’s father, Angelo Stefio, told the news agency ANSA in Rome. “It had been more than 40 days since I’d seen him.”

Saeed Shouly, the deputy chief editor at Al-Jazeera, said the station received the tape by mail Wednesday at its headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

An Iraqi armed group calling itself the Green Brigade has said it was behind the abductions. The Italian government has been working to free the three but is not speaking about the negotiations.

Turk, Egyptian in second tape
In the second tape, which was obtained Wednesday by Associated Press Television News, masked men armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers displayed a Turkish and an Egyptian truck driver said to have been kidnapped in Iraq.

The gunmen said on the tape, which first aired on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, another Arabic-language satellite station, that the drivers were delivering supplies from Kuwait to Iraq and were seized because they were working for U.S. occupation forces.

The tape was obtained in Ramadi, 100 miles west of the capital Baghdad. Ramadi is part of the so-called Sunni Triangle, a center of Sunni Muslim resistance to the U.S. occupation.

The two men were seated on the floor holding their passports in front of five masked gunmen. The foreigners identified themselves as Bulent Yanik, a Turk born in 1969, and Victor Tawfiq Jerges, an Egyptian born in 1959. They spoke in Turkish and Arabic and appeared unharmed as they ate from plates on a carpet on the floor.

The camera zoomed in on a document reading “ESS company vehicle list.” ESS, formerly known as Eurest Support Services, is a food supplier to the U.S. military in Iraq and a division of Britain-based Compass Group.

One of the gunmen read a statement saying “our Jihad brothers” had captured the two drivers “while they were providing the American army with supplies and goods.” He did not say where or when they were seized.

“We are going to treat them in accordance with Islamic law, and we warn everyone who is assisting the Americans that they will meet the same fate,” the gunman added. “Also, we hold their governments responsible for their actions.”

Other new hostages
Iraq has been hit by a wave of kidnappings of foreigners since intense violence began in April. As many as 40 people from several nations have been abducted, although most were later freed.

On Tuesday, two Polish contractors and five Kurdish employees were abducted near a U.S. compound close to Baghdad. However, one of the Poles managed to escape, said a spokesman for their construction company, Jedynka.

They were taken from their office about noon by people who drove up in vehicles, the spokesman said on Polish television.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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