Polish woman released in Iraq

A Polish woman kidnapped in Iraq last month has been freed and flown to Poland, raising hopes for other foreign hostages.

Borcz Khalifa says she was treated well by her captors
Borcz Khalifa says she was treated well by her captors

Teresa Borcz Khalifa, a long-time Polish resident of Iraq who was snatched on 27 October by a purported Iraqi group demanding the pullout of Polish troops, appeared at a news conference with the Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka in Warsaw on Saturday.


She said she had been treated well by her captors.


It was not immediately clear how Borcz Khalifa was freed or whether a ransom was paid for her release.


Belka said she had been brought to Poland on Friday evening, and that her release involved several government agencies and services in cooperation with institutions from other countries.


She declined to reveal any details citing security reasons.


While some captures in Iraq are politically motivated or designed to undermine the country’s interim government, others are done to earn ransoms.


But asked if a ransom was paid to free Borcz Khalifa, foreign ministry spokesman Aleksander Checko said: “I have nothing more to say. The prime minister said everything that there was to be said.”


Details unknown


Borcz Khalifa, who together with her mother was brought into the room to applause from journalists, said she could not tell how she was released.

Borcz Khalifa says she will stay in
Poland for the time being


“I don’t know how it happened because I was blindfolded all the time. It was a very happy moment,” she said.


“I think I will stay in Poland for the time being. I was held in good conditions and treated well and that gave me hope that I’d be freed,” a smiling Borcz Khalifa said.


Different groups have seized dozens of foreigners in the past six months and some have been killed. The only other woman known to be held, British-Iraqi aid worker Margaret Hassan, is thought to have been killed.


She and Borcz Khalifa were both married to Iraqi men. Two French journalists kidnapped in August may still be alive.


Iraqi citizenship


Asked whether the kidnappers were aware of her ties to Iraq, Borcz Khalifa said: “I don’t think so.”


Borcz Khalifa’s captors called for
Poland to withdraw its troops

Borcz Khalifa had lived in Iraq since the 70s and holds Iraqi citizenship. She was seized in Baghdad by a little-known group called the Abu Bakr al-Saddiq Salafist Brigades. It demanded Poland withdraw its troops from Iraq, a call Warsaw rejected.


After her capture, Poland offered to help other Polish women living in Iraq leave the country and earlier this month airlifted five women and nine of their relatives.


Poland has 2500 soldiers in south-central Iraq and commands a multinational division of 8000 troops.


Three-quarters of Poles oppose the presence of Polish troops in Iraq. Warsaw plans to start scaling down its forces after Iraqi elections scheduled for January, but has said it will not bow to “terrorists”. It added that any troop withdrawal would be done in such a way as not to jeopardise the mission of stabilising the country.

Source : Reuters

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