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Iraqis start hostage-taking as new policy for resistance
Updated: 2004-04-12 09:14

The Iraqi resistant groups have started taking foreign hostages as a new policy to fight against the US-led occupation forces in the war-ravaged country.

It seemed to be a reaction of the groups to the bloody fighting in Fallujah which resulted in the killing of 518 Iraqis, including 46 children between the ages of five to 15 and around 157 women during the past few days.

About 1,224 other civilians were injured, 20 percent of them critically, according to medical sources, which said that the toll would certainly rise for there were many local residents still buried under the wreckage of their houses, and could not be reached in the dangerous circumstances.

The kidnappers announced that they would release the hostages if the American forces withdrew from the city and stopped bombing residential areas and indiscriminately killing innocent people.

In the small restive town 50 km west of Baghdad which is home to over 300,000 people, the insurgents think that kidnapping foreigners might oblige the Americans to stop their attack on the town, thus save the city from destruction.

One of the groups claimed that they had kidnapped 30 foreigners, another announced the abducting of one American, a third group said it kidnapped one British and six South Koreans, a fourth announced kidnapping three Japanese, and a fifth group announced the kidnapping of four Arabs, two of them Israelis.

The groups have threatened to kill the hostages if the American forces did not lift the siege imposed on the town, while some groups demanded that the troops of some countries of the coalition be withdrawn from Iraq.

As a result, many foreigners in Iraq, including employees of embassies and foreign companies, started leaving the country for fear that the situation would worsen and the violence would spread.

Japan has set up a rescue unit in Jordan to get information and intelligence about the three Japanese abducted by a resistant group calling itself Mujahedeen Brigades.

The group threatened to burn the Japanese alive if Japan does not leave the country within three days since the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite TV aired a videotape from the group on Thursday.

Japan has made an official public reaction to the demands of the kidnappers, saying they would not submit and their forces would not leave Iraq.

It is expected that the lift of the siege on Fallujah, the withdrawal of the American forces and mediation of some Islamic parties and prominent figures in the country would lead to the release of the hostages in the coming days.

But the deteriorating security situation and numerous insurgence without a unified leadership might lead to more kidnappings in other cities and towns throughout Iraq.

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