|Your account||Today's news index||Weather||Traffic||Movies||Restaurants||Today's events|
Friday, July 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Decapitation deepens crisis over hostages
By PAUL GARWOOD
The deepening hostage crises across Iraq led Kenya, facing an ultimatum by militants to behead three of its citizens in captivity, to tell its people yesterday to leave Iraq. The kidnappings have further complicated Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's efforts to persuade reluctant nations to join the U.S.-led coalition and send troops here.
Allawi asked Egypt, which also has a citizen threatened with decapitation in Iraq, "to talk to some Arab and Islamic leaders to send forces to protect" a U.N. mission in the country, he told reporters in Cairo. But an official in the Egyptian president's office said Egypt would send troops only if other Arabs do so first. On Wednesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said: "Egypt will not send forces in any case."
In new violence yesterday, insurgents fought a running gunbattle with U.S. soldiers on Haifa Street in central Baghdad during a sweep of suspected militants, officials said. Six Iraqis were wounded, Health Ministry official Saad al-Amili said.
Iraqi forces arrested 270 people, including several "non-Iraqi Arabs," and discovered a huge cache of weapons, Interior Ministry official Sabah Khadum said. U.S. officials said only 48 suspected criminals and insurgents were arrested.
U.S. Marines also announced they killed 25 insurgents, wounded 17 and captured 25 others during a gunbattle Wednesday in the western city of Ramadi. Fourteen Marines were injured, none with life-threatening wounds, the Marines said.
Many of the nearly 70 hostages held in Iraq in recent months are truck drivers who haul cargo for private companies work that is vital to normalizing Iraq's postwar economy. The truckers are easy targets compared with the thousands of other foreign contractors in Iraq, many of whom work in critical service jobs with the U.S. military or on reconstruction projects.
The decapitated body, found Wednesday night on the banks of the Tigris in the town of Beiji, was clad in an orange prison-style jumpsuit that kidnappers have forced some captives to wear before beheading them. Beside the body, which was still unidentified, was a head in a sack, said Beiji police official Taha Abdullah.
Bulgarian officials were investigating whether the remains were those of Ivaylo Kepov, 32, one of two Bulgarians kidnapped June 29 near the northern city of Mosul.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said another headless body found in the Tigris on July 14 was identified as the other hostage Bulgarian truck driver Georgi Lazov, 30.
A group affiliated with Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said it kidnapped the Bulgarians and demanded Iraqi detainees be released in exchange for their lives. The group later sent a tape to Al-Jazeera television that reportedly showed Lazov being killed.
Another group, calling itself The Holders of the Black Banners, announced Wednesday that it had abducted two Kenyans, three Indians and an Egyptian, and said it would behead a captive every 72 hours beginning tomorrow night unless their trucking company stopped doing business here and their countries withdrew troops and citizens.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top