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Friday, September 24, 2004 - Page updated at 12:44 A.M.

Iraq Notebook
Canadian hostage freed after promising captor aid


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Iraqi leader and Bush vow democracy
FALLUJAH, Iraq — A group calling itself The Brigades of the Victorious Lion of God said yesterday it had released a Canadian hostage, claiming that her company had met its demand to withdraw from Iraq.

The group said Fairuz Yamulky worked for a firm that provided equipment for several U.S. bases. Canada's National Post newspaper reported yesterday that Yamulky, from Calgary, Alberta, escaped beheading after persuading one of her captors that if he set her free, she would help him start a new life in Canada.

Kidnappers sought a $2.5 million ransom and the release of 50 female Iraqi prisoners, her father told the Post. They also demanded that Yamulky's company, G.S.S. International, build 150 homes in various Iraqi cities to replace those destroyed by American bombs, he said.

The newspaper reported that on Tuesday during negotiations with her family, Yamulky was left with a lone guard who was persuaded to let her go in return for helping to bring him to Canada.

The Canadian government yesterday confirmed the release of Yamulky. Relatives of Yamulky, an Iraqi Kurd whose family fled Iraq to Canada in 1991, told The Calgary Sun newspaper that the 38-year-old had been snatched from her vehicle by gunmen on a Baghdad street on Sept. 5.

The U.S. military had no immediate information.

The status of two Italian aid workers abducted Sept. 7 in Baghdad residence remained unknown yesterday, a day after a group claiming to hold them said they had been killed.

The Italian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it had no new information on the pair, Simona Torretta and Simona Pari.

A little-known group called Supporters of Zawahri — a reference to Ayman Zawahri, a leader of al-Qaida — was the first to claim responsibility for the women's kidnapping. But a second group, the Islamic Jihad Organization in Iraq, also has claimed to be holding them.

Egyptians kidnapped from company office

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Gunmen stormed a mobile phone company office in Baghdad and seized two Egyptian employees, government officials said today.
 
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The kidnapping happened late yesterday in the upscale Harthiya neighborhood, said Interior Ministry official Col. Adnan Abdel-Rahman. The two engineers were taken away in a black BMW, he said.

The men's employers at Iraquna Mobile Net had no immediate comment.

Iraqi oil official killed by gunmen

BASRA, Iraq — Gunmen killed a senior official of Iraq's North Oil Co. in the northeastern city of Mosul yesterday.

Sana Toma Sulaiman, the deputy director of the company's oil products department in the Nineveh province, was shot dead as he headed to work in a taxi in Mosul, said Hazim Jallawi, a spokesman for the Nineveh governor's office.

The attack came after Mohammed Zibari, the department's director, survived an attempt on his life Sept. 18 when assailants opened fire on his convoy in Mosul, killing five of his bodyguards.

In Rashidiya, some 15 miles north of the capital, Baghdad, saboteurs blew up an oil well, setting it on fire, said Jassim al-Dulaimi, who is in charge of security at the area's oilfields. The well, with a capacity of 5,000 barrels a day, supplies refineries in nearby Taji and Baghdad's Dora refinery, al-Dulaimi said.

Saboteurs also attacked a pipeline with explosives yesterday in the southern city of Najaf, ceasing oil flow from fields near the city to a refinery in the southern city of Basra, an official with the South Oil Co. said on condition of anonymity.

He said the attack will not affect oil exports from the south, Iraq's main port for oil shipments.

Iraqi teen, mother granted asylum

WASHINGTON — A 15-year-old Iraqi girl who claimed persecution in Baghdad because her family cooperated with the U.S. military has been granted political asylum here.

The girl and her mother, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation against other family members still in Iraq, received the letter yesterday from the Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to Jeff Sullivan, their Washington lawyer.

The mother is now pursuing asylum for the father and three other children still in Baghdad, he said.

The case is believed to be among the first U.S. instances of an Iraqi seeking political asylum. Some lawyers have said the victory could open the door for other Iraqis in the United States who claim persecution for reasons other than the standard causes of race, religion or political opinion.

The girl came to the United States last year with her mother for treatment of a cancerous growth in her cervix. The two subsequently applied for political asylum, citing death threats after family members provided "actionable intelligence" to the U.S. military on Saddam Hussein's cohorts, according to Army Col. Frederick Gerber, who submitted an affidavit in the case.

Also

U.S. warplanes pounded targets in a large Shiite Muslim slum in the eastern part of the capital yesterday, part of an operation aimed at dismantling the militia loyal to rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The attacks killed at least one person and injured 12, according to hospital officials.

Although Shiite insurgents in the holy city of Najaf have been largely quiet since a truce between al-Sadr's militia and U.S. and Iraq forces was reached there a month ago, clashes have continued in the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City.

A group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian fighting U.S. and government forces in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed at least 11 people in Baghdad Wednesday.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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