Iraq Insurgents Claim Algerian Diplomats Killed

Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed in an Internet posting Wednesday that it had killed two Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq, the second reported slayings of Arab envoys this month.

"The head of the Algerian mission Ali Belaroussi (search) and the diplomat Azzedine Belkadi (search), whose government is ruling in violation of God's will, were killed," said the statement, which could not be independently verified.

Belaroussi and Belkadi were kidnapped at gunpoint July 21 in Baghdad's upscale Mansour area.

The pair appeared in a video made public Tuesday blindfolded and in captivity, giving their names and home addresses. It was the first time they had been seen since being abducted.

Wednesday's statement, which appeared on an Islamic Web site, claimed the envoys had been killed because of the Algerian government's repression of Islamic fundamentalists in the North African country following the cancellation of elections more than 10 years ago.

"We won't forget what Algeria did to Muslims, by killings, destruction and spilling their blood," said the statement.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has also claimed responsibility for attacking three other diplomats from Muslim nations.

Egyptian envoy Ihab al-Sherif (search), 51, was seized July 2 in Iraq as part of an apparent campaign to undermine Arab nations' support for the Iraqi government. Al Qaeda in Iraq later claimed al-Sherif had been killed, but provided no evidence and his body has not been found.

After al-Sherif's kidnapping, gunmen in Iraq fired on envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain in what police said were kidnap attempts. The Pakistani escaped unharmed and the Bahraini envoy was slightly wounded.