Militants have kidnapped a U.S. Marine and a Pakistani driver in Iraq and are threatening to behead them unless Iraqi prisoners are freed, Arab television reported Sunday.
The kidnappings, apparently carried out by two different groups, are the latest targeting foreigners in Iraq in the violent run-up to June 30, when an interim Iraqi government is set to formally take over from the U.S. led occupation authorities.
Al Jazeera television said a group calling itself the Islamic Response Movement, the security wing of the "1920 Revolution Brigades," had kidnapped a U.S. Marine after luring him from a U.S. base.
Sunday's brief video showed a blindfolded man dressed in camouflage sitting in a chair with a hand holding a sword above his head. A Marine Corps identity card named him as Wassef Ali Hassoun and Jazeera said he was of Pakistani origin. Other official documents also displayed his name.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military in Baghdad. Jazeera said the group threatened to behead Hassoun if their demands were not met but did not set a deadline.
Earlier, Al Arabiya television broadcast a video tape from an unidentified group of gunmen in Iraq saying they had captured a Pakistani man carrying an identity card for U.S. contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root, which works with the U.S. military.
They also threatened to behead him unless Iraqi prisoners are released. They set a deadline of three days.
It was not immediately clear if both groups were linked to Jama'at al-Tawhid and Jihad, a group led by suspected al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi which has carried out previous kidnappings and beheadings of foreign hostages in Iraq.
"This man was taken after an attack on a U.S. base in Balad," said a masked gunmen on the tape Arabiya aired.
"You must release our prisoners held near the U.S. base in Balad, in Dujail, in Yethrib, in Samarra and near Abu Ghraib. You have three days from the date of this recording and after that we will behead him. We have warned you."