BAGHDAD, Iraq – An umbrella group linked to al-Qaida in Iraq claimed Monday that it had kidnapped two American soldiers reported missing south of Baghdad, where 8,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops were conducting a massive search.
The group, called the Mujahedeen Shura Council, also claimed it had kidnapped four Russian diplomats and killed a fifth in Baghdad on June 3.
The message, which could not be authenticated, appeared on an Islamic Web site known for publishing messages from insurgent groups in Iraq. U.S. officials have said they were trying to confirm whether the two soldiers, who disappeared Friday evening following an insurgent attack that also killed a U.S. soldier, were kidnapped.
During the search for the missing Americans, U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell also said the military killed three suspected insurgents and detained 34 others in fighting that wounded seven U.S. servicemen.
The Web posting said: “Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahedeen Shura Council kidnapped the two American soldiers near Youssifiya.” It did not identify the soldiers.
The Defense Department identified the missing men as Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., and the dead soldier as Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.
Here’s to praying they are found safe and their captors shown no mercy.