BAGHDAD -- A roadside bomb killed a British soldier yesterday in southern Iraq, the 100th Briton killed since the war started nearly three years ago, while two German hostages were shown in a new video as kidnappers threatened to kill them if Germany doesn't cease cooperation with the Iraqi government within three days.
Elsewhere, police found the bodies of 16 young men -- handcuffed and blindfolded -- in separate parts of Baghdad, and gunmen killed the wife and two sons of a Sunni Arab cleric north of the capital in a series of apparent sectarian reprisal killings.
This morning, a bomb exploded alongside a group of men waiting for work in eastern Baghdad, killing at least eight and wounding more than 50, police said. Witnesses said a man placed a bag full of explosives near a cart that sold tea to the workers as they waited for daily construction jobs, said Colonel Ahmed Abboud, chief of police in the New Baghdad area, where the explosion occurred.
Al-Jazeera television aired the videotape of the two German hostages and said the kidnappers demanded that Germany close its embassy in Iraq and stop cooperating with the Iraqi government.
An Al-Jazeera producer, contacted by telephone at the station in Doha, Qatar, said the kidnappers threatened to kill the hostages, Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, if their demands were not met within 72 hours.
The video surfaced a day after US journalist Jill Carroll appeared weeping and veiled in footage also aired on Al-Jazeera.
US officials said efforts were underway to free Carroll, a 28-year-old freelancer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, but they have ruled out meeting the kidnappers' demand to release all Iraqi women in detention.
''Everything is being done to work with those who might have influence, and there are an awful lot of people who are calling for her release," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday en route to Washington from London.
Reporters Without Borders, an international journalist advocacy group, also said it would send representatives to the Middle East soon to promote a campaign in the Arab media for the release of Carroll, who was seized in Baghdad on Jan. 7.
Eleven bodies were found in a truck in the volatile western Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliyah, police said. All had been shot in the head, police added. The five other bodies were found near a sewage plant in the eastern Rustamiyah district, a common dumping ground for victims of sectarian death squads.
It was not known whether they were Sunni Arabs or Shi'ites. Extremists from both communities have targeted each other in reprisal killings that have claimed hundreds of lives and sharpened sectarian tensions as Iraqi politicians try to form a new government after Dec. 15 national elections.
In another apparent reprisal killing, gunmen killed the wife and two sons of Sunni Arab cleric Qassim Daham al-Hamdani on Monday night in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said.
The cleric was not at the house at the time of the attack.
Such killings have complicated efforts by Iraq's Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish political parties to form a new government.
US officials are pushing the Iraqis to include more Sunni Arabs, who form the backbone of the insurgency.
But Sunni Arab leaders say counterinsurgency operations by the Shi'ite-led security services have angered many members of the disaffected minority and threaten to undercut efforts to reach out to the insurgents. Paramilitary troops backed by US forces launched more raids yesterday in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said.
The British soldier was killed and three others were wounded yesterday in the roadside bombing in Umm Qasr. He was the second British soldier killed in Iraq in as many days.