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Afghan Militants Threaten to Kill Foreign Hostages

The kidnappers of three foreign election workers in Afghanistan say they will kill their hostages by Wednesday if a list of demands is not met.

The abductors issued a videotape of the three hostage election workers, a Kosovar woman, a Filipino man, and a woman of dual Irish-British citizenship. It was broadcast Sunday on the Arab al-Jazeera news network. It shows the three in good condition but it is not clear when the video was made.

The kidnappers, from the Jaish-e Muslimeen, or "Muslim Army," threatened to behead the three election workers if all Muslim prisoners held in Afghanistan and by the United States in Guantanamo, Cuba, are not released by noon Wednesday.

They also want the United Nations, which is operating multiple humanitarian programs, including election assistance, to leave Afghanistan.

U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva made an emotional plea Sunday for the lives of captive foreign election workers.

"We call on those holding them not to harm them," he said. "All three require medical attention, and the best response to such [a] situation is their immediate release."

He declined to give details on the investigation into the kidnapping, citing security concerns, but said the United Nations would continue its work in the country. Afghan authorities say they have arrested three people in connection with the abductions.

The three election workers were taken from their U.N. car at gunpoint in the capital, Kabul, Thursday. They were part of the international team which helped stage Afghanistan's first-ever presidential election on October 9 and are working on parliamentary elections slated for next year.

There are numerous militant and terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan after decades of civil war. All are demanding foreign powers pullout of reconstruction and security efforts.