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Jordanian hostages freed after Iraq raid
Updated: 2004-08-04 17:12

An Iraqi tribal chief in the turbulent city of Fallujah led a raid that freed four Jordanian hostages kidnapped a week ago, the chief said Wednesday.

A brother of one of the four hostages, Mohammed abu Jaafar said from Jordan that he'd spoken by telephone with his brother Ahmad, who told him: "Now I am free. I was in the hands of evil people. Now I am in the hands of good people."

Also Wednesday, the Arab satellite network al-Jazeera reported that an al-Qaeda-linked militant group in Iraq said it will free two Turkish hostages after their company promised to stop sending trucks to U.S. troops in Iraq.

Fire and smoke billow into the air after saboteurs bombed an oil pipeline near al-Fattah, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2004. Insurgents have repeatedly attacked Iraq's oil infrastructure in a concerted effort to undermine the interim government and deprive it of money for reconstruction efforts. [AP]

Turkey's truckers association said it was halting deliveries to U.S. forces in Iraq immediately after Monday's release of a video showing militants shooting and killing truck driver Murat Yuce, in hopes of freeing the other two men.

Sheik Haj Ibrahim Jassam said he received word on Tuesday evening that four kidnapped Jordanians were being held in a house on the edge of the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad. He said that once the raid began, the kidnappers fled the house and the four men were brought to his house unharmed.

"I called upon my brothers and tribesmen to free the hostages, so we raided the house last night," Jassam told The Associated Press. "I'm glad that those innocent Muslims were freed."

Lynndie England (C) arrives with her legal council in Fayetteville, NC for her Article 32 investigation hearing. England is charged with several counts, including conspiring to maltreat an Iraqi detainee, three counts of assault against Iraqis, and several other crimes. [AFP]
The four men were abducted by a group calling itself "Mujahedeen of Iraq, the Group of Death." The kidnapping became known on July 27 when Dubai Television broadcast a video tape showing four men holding what appeared to be Jordanian identification cards.

Families of the four — three drivers and a businessman — had previously said the kidnappers promised to free the Jordanians after their relatives and fellow truck drivers staged an anti-American demonstration last Friday.

The four were only the latest truck drivers to be taken hostage in Iraq as part of insurgents' campaign to spoil reconstruction work. Kidnappers have found the poorly protected drivers easy targets, seizing them at will with little concern about their country of origin.

Their strategy has also been effective: Several companies in the Middle East have halted work in Iraq after employees were kidnapped. In the insurgents' biggest coup, the Philippines withdrew its small troop contingent from Iraq a month early to win the release of a captured Filipino truck driver.

The movement of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Tawhid and Jihad group, claimed in a video July 30 to have kidnapped the Turks and threatened to behead them within 48 hours unless their Turkish company leaves Iraq.

The two men who were to be released, Abdurrahman Demir and Sait Unurlu, were shown in a video broadcast Wednesday kneeling before three black-clad masked men carrying weapons.

"Since the Turkish company decided to stop sending its trucks to American troops in Iraq, the Tawhid and Jihad has decided to release the two Turkish hostages," one masked man read aloud, clutching a pistol in his right hand.

The news came after a day of widespread violence in Iraq, when insurgents killed seven Iraqi security personnel and the U.S. military said guerrillas killed four Americans. Two others were killed in non-hostile incidents.

The American dead included two soldiers killed by a roadside bomb and two Marines who died after being wounded in fighting Monday. Two others died in non-combat-related incidents. The U.S. deaths brought at least 919 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq.

The deadliest insurgent attack Tuesday came in a car bombing north of the city of Baqoubah, when a truck raced toward an Iraqi checkpoint guarding Kharnabad Bridge, officials said.

The truck attempted to merge into a U.S. military convoy heading toward the bridge, but a soldier driving one of the vehicles forced it off the road before it detonated, said Maj. Neal O'Brien, a U.S. Army spokesman. No U.S. troops were injured, he said.

The blast killed four members of the Iraqi National Guard and wounded five others, said Maj. Gen. Waleed Khaled Abdulsalam, Baqouba's police chief.

In other violence, a roadside bomb attack early Tuesday killed Col. Mouyad Mohammed Bashar, chief of al-Mamoun police station in Baghdad, along with another officer, officials said. A third officer was wounded in the blast.

Gunmen in the northern city of Mosul opened fire on a police station, killing one officer and injuring two others before fleeing, police chief Izzat Ibrahim said.

From April 2003 to May 2004 alone, 710 Iraqi police were killed out of a total force of 130,000 officers, authorities said.

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