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German hostages freed in Iraq after three-month ordeal
Cat : HDA News
Date : 2006-05-03 12:40:36                      Reader : 345
German hostages freed in Iraq
 after three-month ordeal
 
Tue May 2, 2:11 PM ET
 
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Two German hostages were released in
Iraq after a three-month ordeal as the US military said its troops had killed 10 foreign "terrorists" in the war-ravaged country.
Berlin announced that the two gas engineers Rene Braeunlich, 32, and Thomas Nitzschke, 28, had been freed after they were seized outside a refinery in northern Iraq on January 24.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said from Chile that he had spoken to the hostages and they were doing relatively well under the circumstances.
The two were working for a German company when they were abducted, a few weeks after US journalist Jill Carroll was abducted in Baghdad. She was released on March 30.
The kidnappers of the Germans, who said they were members of a group called Ansar al-Tawheed wal Sunna (Followers of Unity and Prophetic Tradition), issued several demands to the German government in the past three months.
In a video released on the Internet in April they threatened to mete out "punishment" to Braeunlich and Nitzschke unless all Iraqis held in US prisons were released.
German media said in April said the hostage-takers were demanding a 12-million-dollar ransom for the pair's release, although Berlin refused to comment on the report.
Inhabitants of the two men's hometown of Leipzig in eastern Germany had been holding vigils since the men were abducted.
Braeunlich's girlfriend Cindy Brost, with whom he has a three-year-old son, said in January that her partner had not thought he was putting himself in danger by going to Iraq and that he liked the country and its people.
The engineers, on short-term contracts to install machinery, were seized as they travelled by car from their lodgings to the nearby high-security Baiji refinery compound, 200 kilometers (130 miles) north of Baghdad.
A third German national and an Iraqi who were also in the car escaped as the kidnappers thought they were both locals.
About 450 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq since the fall of
 
Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.
A team of US assault troops, meanwhile, shot dead 10 "terrorists" in a pre-dawn operation near the northern town of Balad, the US military said.
"Coalition forces killed 10 terrorists, three of them wearing suicide vests, and wounded one at approximately 1:30 am (2130 GMT Monday) at a safe house" located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Balad, the military said.
It said the incident took place as the forces were "searching for an Al-Qaeda terrorist leader", but did not specify if he was among those killed.
There were no casualties among the assault troops, the statement said.
Insurgents meanwhile killed six people across Iraq, including a US soldier, and also attacked the governor of the restive western province of Al-Anbar.
Governor Maamun Sami Rashid escaped the attack in the provincial capital of Ramadi, a source in the coalition forces said.
The death of a soldier on Monday pushed to 2,403 the death toll for US servicemen in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP count based on
Pentagon figures.
Police also found six bullet-riddled bodies across the country, the latest victims of a spate of extra-judicial killings that have torn Iraq amid mounting sectarian tensions this year.
In Baghdad Iraqi leaders discussed forming the country's long awaited national unity government for which elections were held on December 15.
Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs and the majority Shiites were seen sorting out differences over ministerial berths and on the crucial post of a deputy prime minister.
Sunni Arabs were to retain one of the two deputy premier posts after Shiite leaders dropped plans to offer it to the secularist Shiite former premier Iyad Allawi.
"The Shiites are supporting us for one of the deputy prime minister posts," said Zhafer al-Ani, spokesman for the main Sunni parliamentary bloc, the National Concord Front.
Ani had insisted the minority community needed to be given the job if the sting was to be taken out of the insurgency raging in Sunni areas.
"All troubles in Iraq are in Sunni areas, so it is important to have a Sunni deputy prime minister," he said last week.
Leaders of the Kurdish alliance also met in Kurdistan's Salaheddin province, and "demanded to retain the foreign ministry portfolio and a deputy premier's post," an alliance official said.
Prime minister designate Nuri al-Maliki has said he expects to complete his cabinet line-up by May 10.
 
Tue May 2, 2:11 PM ET
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Two German hostages were released in
 
 
Iraq after a three-month ordeal as the US military said its troops had killed 10 foreign "terrorists" in the war-ravaged country.
Berlin announced that the two gas engineers Rene Braeunlich, 32, and Thomas Nitzschke, 28, had been freed after they were seized outside a refinery in northern Iraq on January 24.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said from Chile that he had spoken to the hostages and they were doing relatively well under the circumstances.
The two were working for a German company when they were abducted, a few weeks after US journalist Jill Carroll was abducted in Baghdad. She was released on March 30.
The kidnappers of the Germans, who said they were members of a group called Ansar al-Tawheed wal Sunna (Followers of Unity and Prophetic Tradition), issued several demands to the German government in the past three months.
In a video released on the Internet in April they threatened to mete out "punishment" to Braeunlich and Nitzschke unless all Iraqis held in US prisons were released.
German media said in April said the hostage-takers were demanding a 12-million-dollar ransom for the pair's release, although Berlin refused to comment on the report.
Inhabitants of the two men's hometown of Leipzig in eastern Germany had been holding vigils since the men were abducted.
Braeunlich's girlfriend Cindy Brost, with whom he has a three-year-old son, said in January that her partner had not thought he was putting himself in danger by going to Iraq and that he liked the country and its people.
The engineers, on short-term contracts to install machinery, were seized as they travelled by car from their lodgings to the nearby high-security Baiji refinery compound, 200 kilometers (130 miles) north of Baghdad.
A third German national and an Iraqi who were also in the car escaped as the kidnappers thought they were both locals.
About 450 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq since the fall of
 
 
Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.
A team of US assault troops, meanwhile, shot dead 10 "terrorists" in a pre-dawn operation near the northern town of Balad, the US military said.
"Coalition forces killed 10 terrorists, three of them wearing suicide vests, and wounded one at approximately 1:30 am (2130 GMT Monday) at a safe house" located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Balad, the military said.
It said the incident took place as the forces were "searching for an Al-Qaeda terrorist leader", but did not specify if he was among those killed.
There were no casualties among the assault troops, the statement said.
Insurgents meanwhile killed six people across Iraq, including a US soldier, and also attacked the governor of the restive western province of Al-Anbar.
Governor Maamun Sami Rashid escaped the attack in the provincial capital of Ramadi, a source in the coalition forces said.
The death of a soldier on Monday pushed to 2,403 the death toll for US servicemen in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP count based on
 
Pentagon figures.
Police also found six bullet-riddled bodies across the country, the latest victims of a spate of extra-judicial killings that have torn Iraq amid mounting sectarian tensions this year.
In Baghdad Iraqi leaders discussed forming the country's long awaited national unity government for which elections were held on December 15.
Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs and the majority Shiites were seen sorting out differences over ministerial berths and on the crucial post of a deputy prime minister.
Sunni Arabs were to retain one of the two deputy premier posts after Shiite leaders dropped plans to offer it to the secularist Shiite former premier Iyad Allawi.
"The Shiites are supporting us for one of the deputy prime minister posts," said Zhafer al-Ani, spokesman for the main Sunni parliamentary bloc, the National Concord Front.
Ani had insisted the minority community needed to be given the job if the sting was to be taken out of the insurgency raging in Sunni areas.
"All troubles in Iraq are in Sunni areas, so it is important to have a Sunni deputy prime minister," he said last week.
Leaders of the Kurdish alliance also met in Kurdistan's Salaheddin province, and "demanded to retain the foreign ministry portfolio and a deputy premier's post," an alliance official said.
Prime minister designate Nuri al-Maliki has said he expects to complete his cabinet line-up by May 10.

 
 
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