Al-Jazeera broadcast video Tuesday of four Western peace activists held hostage by a previously unknown group, part of a new wave of kidnappings police fear is aimed at disrupting next month's elections. The news station said the four were seized by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which claimed they were spies working under the cover of Christian peace activists. The captives- an American, a Briton and two Canadians - were members of the Chicago-based aid group Christian Peacemaker Teams, which confirmed they disappeared Saturday.
The footage showed Norman Kember, a retired British professor with a shock of white hair, sitting on the floor with three other men. The camera revealed the 74-year-old Kember's passport, but the other hostages were not identified.
Christian Peacemaker Teams identified the other hostages as Tom Fox, 54, of Clearbrook, Va.; James Loney, 41, of Toronto; and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a Canadian electrical engineer.
The brief, blurry tape was shown the same day German TV displayed a photo of a blindfolded German archaeologist being led away by armed captors in Iraq. The kidnappers threatened to kill Susanne Osthoff and her Iraqi driver unless Germany halts all contacts with the Iraqi government, reports Guardian Unlimited. I.L.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated