Iraq Rebels Threaten To Kill 60 Shi'ite Hostages

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Sunni insurgents have taken at least 60 people hostage in an Iraqi town near Baghdad and are threatening to kill them unless Shi'ites leave, said a Shi'ite official who said he was contacted by residents there. "People from the town called me begging the Iraqi government to save their relatives who are hostages. They told me there are at least 60 hostages," the Shi'ite official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

The official said insurgents with heavy weapons appear to have taken control of the town of Madaen, just south of Baghdad, and no police or government forces were in sight. "The residents told me the insurgents were wandering the streets in cars and warning people on loudspeakers that if Shi'ites want the hostages to be safe they must leave town," said the official.

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