Thursday, January 19, 2006

Militants Kill Hostage Iranian Soldier

An Iranian Sunni militant group said it had killed one of a group of Iranian soldiers it is holding hostage, according to a video tape aired by Al Arabiya television on Thursday. Al Arabiya quoted the militants as saying they killed the man because of the Iranian government's violations of Sunni symbols in Iranian cities. READ MORE

The video showed masked gunmen with the soldier in front of them. Its authenticity could not be verified.

Earlier this month, Al Arabiya television aired a video from the Holy Fighters group which showed eight men it said were Iranian soldiers identifying themselves before pleading with the government to comply with their captors' demands.

The group had said it would kill the kidnapped soldiers unless Tehran freed 16 jailed members of the Sunni Muslim group within three weeks.

Iranian police had arrested 15 people in connection with the abduction of eight of its soldiers in the country's lawless southeastern borderlands.

In July, the same rebel group said it beheaded an Iranian security agent. Rebels in southeast Iran tend to come from the Baluch minority, which is Sunni.

Some 90 percent of Iran's 69 million people are Shi'ite and the Sunni minority complains of discrimination.