Al-Qaida front group warns U.S. forces to stop searching for missing soldiers

BAGHDAD (AP) - An al-Qaida front group has warned the U-S military to stop searching for three missing American soldiers if it's concerned about their safety.

The posting on a militant Web site also says the attack that led to the disappearance of the Americans and the deaths of four others was retribution for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in the same area a year ago.

The girl's sister and parents also were killed. Three U-S soldiers have pleaded guilty in that case. Islamic State of Iraq, which issued the warning, has claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack.

The U-S military today said for the first time it believes the soldiers were abducted by al-Qaida-linked militants. Islamic State of Iraq is a coalition of eight insurgent groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq.