Statement claims decision to kill Russian captives

An al-Qaida-led Iraqi organization has issued an Internet statement saying the group decided to kill four Russian Embassy workers after Moscow failed to meet the organization's demand to pull troops out of Chechnya. The headline on the Web posting Wednesday indicated the four had been killed, declaring: "God's law was implemented against the Russian diplomats." But the text of the message said only that the "Mujahedeen Shura Council decided to carry out the death sentences." The al-Qaida in Iraq led Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of seven militant organizations in the country, declared that Moscow "put no value on the lives of its citizens." Russian Embassy officials, asking not to be identified by name because they were not authorized to give information, said the mission had no new information on the fate of the four workers. One Russian was killed during the June 3 attack in which the four others were taken hostage. On Monday, the council had issued a statement giving Moscow 48 hours to pull its troops out of Chechnya, the southern Russian region with a mainly Muslim population where militants have been fighting for independence since the early 1990s.