[QODLink]
Archive
Governor of Iraqi province seized

Fighters have captured the governor of Iraq's western al-Anbar province and told his family he will be released when US forces withdraw from al-Qaim, the site of a major US offensive against the followers of Iraq's most wanted fighter, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Last Modified: 11 May 2005 16:13 GMT
US forces are conducting a major operation in al-Qaim

Fighters have captured the governor of Iraq's western al-Anbar province and told his family he will be released when US forces withdraw from al-Qaim, the site of a major US offensive against the followers of Iraq's most wanted fighter, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Governor Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was captured as he drove from al-Qaim to the provincial capital of Ramadi on Tuesday morning, said his brother Hammad.
 
The kidnappers later telephoned the family and said they were holding the governor until US forces pull out of the Syrian border town of al-Qaim, Hammad Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi said.
 
"The kidnappers have demanded that American forces leave al-Qaim in order to release him," he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Boylan, a spokesman for US forces in Iraq, said: ''We don't respond to insurgent or terrorist demands.''

Major US offensive

US forces are conducting one of their largest offensives in six months in the remote desert region.

"We don't respond to insurgent or terrorist demands"

Steven Boylan,
spokesman for US forces in Iraq

The US command said as many as 100 fighters were killed in the first 48 hours of Operation Matador, as American troops cleared villages along the meandering Euphrates then crossed in rafts and on a pontoon bridge.

At least three marines were reported killed and 20 wounded during the first three days of the offensive, the biggest US operation since Falluja, six months ago.

Al-Mahalawi only recently became governor after tribal leaders forced out his predecessor Faisal Raikan al-Gut al-Nimrawi, who narrowly escaped a roadside bombing in February.

Al-Mahalawi, who is originally from al-Qaim, served as mayor of the town under Saddam Hussein.

Civilian casualties

Speaking to Aljazeera from the Iraqi town of al-Qaim, 340km west of Baghdad, director of al-Qaim hospital Dr Hamdi al-Alusi said: "I confirm that most casualties are civilians, namely elderly men, women and children."

 

"We can not conduct surgeries. Ambulances could not move freely. Medical supplies are also very scarce"

Dr Hamdi al-Alusi,
director of al-Qaim hospital

He added that "dozens were killed and many wounded" and that "people are terrified".

 

"We cannot conduct surgeries. Ambulances cannot move freely. Medical supplies are also very scarce", he added.

 

He also appealed to humanitarian organisations as well as Arab and Muslim countries to exert pressure on the government and US forces in order to prevent another Falluja.

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.