BAGHDAD, Iraq – A militant group holding seven foreign truck drivers hostage said Thursday it would kill one of the hostages within 24 hours if its demands were not met, according to a video shown on Al-Arabiya television.
The video showed a masked man pointing a rifle at one of the hostages (search), who was wearing an orange garment similar to ones worn by previous foreign hostages that were killed.
The group, calling itself "The Holders of the Black Banner" said last week it had kidnapped three Kenyans, three Indians and an Egyptian and would begin beheading them last Saturday if the truck drivers' Kuwaiti employer did not cease business in Iraq and the hostages' countries did not withdraw all their citizens from Iraq.
In other videos, the kidnappers added to their demands, but also appeared to extend the deadline.
The gunman in the video Thursday said that no one had contacted the group so it would kill one of the hostages at 7 p.m. Friday because they will be considered "fighters who have supported the infidel occupier by transporting their supplies."
The group did not specify which hostage it would kill.
The gunman said the truckers' governments had ignored the threat against the men, and he scolded the Egyptian government for working for the release of an Egyptian diplomat seized last week and freed Monday, but doing little for the Egyptian driver.
Egyptian diplomats in Baghdad (search) declined to comment. All three nations have made repeated appeals to the kidnappers to free their citizens.
The men all worked as truck drivers for Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Co., which said it would take "all necessary measures" to save their lives.
The hostages were identified as Ibrahim Khamis, Salm Faiz Khamis and Jalal Awadh, of Kenya; Antaryami, Tilak Raj and Sukdev Singh, of India; and Mohammed Ali Sanad, of Egypt.
In response to the hostage crisis, the Indian government on Thursday asked Indians to avoid visiting Iraq.
"In view of the seriousness of the current security situation in Iraq, government of India advises its citizens to defer visits to that country for the time being," the External Affairs Ministry said.
More than 70 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq in recent months in an effort by insurgents to force foreign troops out of the country and to deter truck drivers and other workers involved in trade and reconstruction from coming.
The threat Thursday came just hours after an insurgent group linked to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) said it had kidnapped a Somali truck driver and threatened to behead him if his Kuwaiti company didn't stop working here.
On Wednesday night, another militant group that it had killed two Pakistani hostages.