Home>News Center>World

Two Egyptian engineers kidnapped in Iraq
Updated: 2004-09-24 15:07

As the fate of a British hostage remains unclear, two Egyptian engineers have been kidnapped from their Baghdad office Thursday night, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official says.

Around 10 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday, armed kidnappers tied up the guards outside the engineers' office in western Baghdad, put the two Egyptians in a black BMW and took them to an unknown location, according to Col. Adnan Abdul Rahman.

Rahman said the Egyptians work for Iraqna, a subsidiary of the Egyptian-owned mobile telecommunications company Orascom.

The latest kidnappings come as Muslim and Christian religious leaders in the hometown of a British hostage facing death in Iraq have appealed for his captors to free him.

"In the name of God, the merciful one, we as Muslim and Christian leaders in Liverpool appeal to you as believers to have mercy on Kenneth Bigley," said Akbar Ali, the chairman of Liverpool Mosque and Islamic Institute.

Joining Ali at the news conference on Thursday was James Jones, Liverpool's Anglican Bishop.

"We're appealing to them on the grounds of their own faith and their own faith in the God of mercy to be merciful, to have compassion in this situation and to release Mr. Bigley," Jones said.

Bigley, 62, was abducted last Thursday along with two Americans from their Baghdad residence. The three men were in Iraq working on reconstruction projects for the Middle Eastern company, Gulf Supplies and Commercial Services.

The two Americans were beheaded Monday and Tuesday.

Bigley's captors said he would face the same fate unless the British government met their demand to release Muslim women from Iraqi prisons. U.S. officials said the only women currently held in Iraq are the two "high value detainees" -- both held at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport, according to Iraqi sources.

The interim Iraqi government Thursday reiterated it had no imminent plans to release any detainees -- as have Washington officials.

Since April, militant groups in Iraq have seized more than 100 hostages. Most have been released but about 30 have been killed.

The appeal by British religious leaders came the same day the Italian government warned that reports of two Italian women being held captive in Iraq have been killed are "unreliable."

"We, therefore, urge the maximum caution, care and responsibility," the office of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a written statement.

Simona Torretta and Simona Pari, both 29, were working for a humanitarian group called Bridge to Baghdad when their office was raided by insurgents more than two weeks ago and they were taken hostage, police said.

Two separate groups claimed to have killed the women.

Meanwhile, concern for Bigley continued to mount. Bigley's wife, who lives in Thailand, also begged the captors to release her husband.

"My husband, Ken, is an ordinary, hardworking family man who wanted to help the people of Iraq amongst whom he has made many friends," Sombat Bigley said, according to a translation from The Associated Press.

"As a loving wife, I beg you once more for mercy."

Bigley's 86-year-old mother was hospitalized after complaining of feeling unwell, authorities said.

Lil Bigley was being treated at Aintree University Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.

Bigley's brother criticized the U.S. government during an interview on BBC radio. He said the initial report that the prisoners would be released was "a shadow of light in a big, long, dark, damp, filthy, cold tunnel."

"Now this has been sabotaged," Bigley said.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Premier pushes for strengthened partnership



Nation gears up for incoming festival, holiday



36 still missing as search goes on



Dorm: A room of one's own



Telecom, Netcom to link wireless services



Moves to expose dangers of smoking


  British hostage's family seeks Iraqi help
  Panic erupts in flood-ravaged Haiti city
  Hurricane Jeanne takes aim at Florida
  Six Egyptians snatched in Iraq
  Three Israeli soldiers shot dead
  Two Egyptian engineers kidnapped in Iraq
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?