BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Islamic State militants kidnapped six members of Iraqi security forces and threatened to kill them in three days unless the government releases Sunni Muslim prisoners, the group said on Saturday.
In a video posted by the group's Amaq news agency, six men with visible wounds on their faces appear sitting on the ground with two masked gunmen, aiming with assault rifles, standing behind. The black flag of the Islamic State hangs in the background.
Iraq's military spokesman could not be contacted immediately for comment.
In the video, the men identify themselves as members of the Iraqi police or the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias supported by Iran that fought with the government forces against the Islamic State and nominally informed the Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi.
"I implore the central government of Haider al-Abadi and the provincial government of Anbar, we are now with the Islamic State, and we have three days, if the demand to free the Sunni women from the jails is not met, all we will die, "said one of the hostages.
Abadi declared the final victory over hard-line Sunni extremists in December, but the group still operates from the pockets along the Syrian border and has continued to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings throughout Iraq.
There has been a rebound in the group's attacks in recent weeks, especially on a highway connecting the capital, Baghdad, to the north of the country, where Amaq said the men in the video had been taken.
"We give the Rafidi government three days to release all the Sunni detainees from the prisons in exchange for the release of these apostates, or their fate will be that of their predecessors," said one of the gunmen, using insults to the Shiites. regularly employed by the Islamic State.
Report of Ahmed Aboulenein; additional reports by Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Edited by Jon Boyle