A videotape showing three Italian hostages in Iraq has been shown by news broadcaster Al Arabiya (search ).

In the video, the apparent kidnappers vow to kill the hostages in five days unless the Italian people protest against their military presence in Iraq.

Quoting a message it said came from the kidnappers, the Arabic television channel said: "A group calling itself the Green Brigade said it would release them if demonstrations are organized in Italy to protest against the government's policy in Iraq. 

"The group gave Italians five days to hold the protests or it will kill the hostages."

The tape showed three unshaven men eating a meal and wearing Arab robes.

Footage on Italian television indicated the hostages were those shown on April 13, when kidnappers demanded the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq, according to Reuters news agency.

Another Italian originally held with them was later killed.

The group's statement continued: "We tell you we will show good faith and free them if you sympathize with our cause, show solidarity with us and publicly reject the policy of your prime minister by staging a big protest in your capital to protest against the war.

"We grant you five days after which we will kill them without any hesitation or any other warning."