More hostages freed - others seized

A Canadian and three Czechs taken hostage in Iraq have been freed but a Dane and a Jordanian are among the latest foreigners to be abducted.

    Canadian Fadi Ihsan Fadil served as an aid worker

    The three Czechs - journalists Michal Kubal and Petr Klima from Czech Television and Vit Pohanka from Czech Radio - went missing near the Sunni town of Falluja on Sunday when their taxi was pulled over and they were forced out at gunpoint.

    "They are alive, healthy and are in good physical... condition at the Czech embassy in Baghdad," Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar said in Prague on Friday. 

    But two more foreigners were confirmed missing. Denmark's Foreign Ministry said a Danish businessman had gone missing just north of Baghdad on Tuesday.

    And officials with the US-led occupation in Basra said a Jordanian-born business man on a United Arab Emirates passport was taken five days ago.

    The freed Canadian, humanitarian worker Fadi Ihsan Fadil, was delivered to the office of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf.

    The Syrian-born 33-year-old was kidnapped along with Palestinian Nabil George Razuq on 8 April.

    There was no information about Razuq. 

    "At first they beat me, then they kept moving me to different locations every few hours," Fadil said, shaking and breaking down as he described his ordeal. 


    "They accused me of being a Jew...I was detained for eight days in a room with other hostages. They spoke Arabic and they looked like Iraqis but they were also detainees. We were not allowed to talk to each other." 

    "They accused me of being a Jew ... I was detained for eight
    days in a room with other hostages. They spoke Arabic and they looked like Iraqis but they were also detainees" 

    Fadi Ihsan Fadil,
    Freed Canadian hostage

    Fadil said his kidnappers kept promising to release him and then letting him down. 

    "I was miserable, desperate ...Today they put me in a car, told me to behave normally and brought me to the cemetery where I saw the Sayyid," he said, pointing at a shia leader who was involved in negotiations to release him. 

    "He took my hand. I didn't know where I was going, I was afraid and here I am now, in the office of Sayyid al-Sadr." 


    Earlier on Friday, al-Sadr appealed for the release of all hostages

    who were nationals of countries unconnected to the occupation of Iraq.  

    More than 40 foreigners have
    been taken hostage in Iraq

    A senior shia cleric said the group holding Fadil called itself Saraya Ashab al-Yamin. He said there had been four hours of negotiations with the group to secure Fadil's release. 

    "We're still negotiating. If there are other civilians held they will be released," Husam al-Husayn said. 

    Kubal told Czech Television in a live telephone interview that they spent six nights in a car repair shop, first sleeping on the ground and later on a makeshift bed. 


    "It seems we got into the hands of one group organising anti-American resistance in the Falluja region," Kubal said. 


    "And when television Aljazeera broadcast... a statement that the Czech Republic is willing to pay ransom the group said they want to make a gesture and release us to show they are not in it for the money," he said. 

    News agency CTK quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Petr Kolar as saying that a meeting of Czech ambassador to Iraq with Sunni religious figures had helped facilitate the release of the hostages, as well as a letter from Czech Muslims calling for their release. 

    Fadil's brother, Ghayas, said from Montreal his family was "very happy".

    "It's been an extremely difficult time. My mom is flying," he said.

    More than 40 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq. Most have been released, but earlier this week an Italian was killed by captors who threatened to kill another three Italians
    they were holding if Italy did not withdraw from Iraq. 


    SOURCE: Reuters


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