News and Information

Iraq militants seize Polish woman
October 28, 2004
Militants in Iraq have taken hostage a Polish woman and are demanding that Poland withdraw all its troops from the country.

Footage showing the woman was passed to the al-Jazeera television network by a group calling itself the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Fundamentalist Brigades.

The militants claim the woman, who has not been named, worked with US forces.

Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka said the woman was Polish, married to an Iraqi and had lived in Iraq for years.

Poland is not in the business of meeting demands of hostage takers
Polish Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski

Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said the Polish authorities could not release the woman's name for security reasons.

She had been in Iraq for decades and had worked for the Polish embassy in Baghdad for about a year in the early 1990s, he said.

Mr Cimoszewicz said the embassy would now warn all Polish women married to Iraqis, thought to number about 15, to leave Iraq for their own safety.

Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski rejected demands for the withdrawal of Poland's 2,500 troops from Iraq, saying: "Poland is not in the business of meeting demands of hostage takers."

'Abducted from home'

He said the woman could be an employee of a private contractor working for the US-led forces in Iraq.

"We will use all the means to help and free this kidnapped person," he added.

Iraqi interior ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul Rahman told the Associated Press the woman, who has Iraqi citizenship, had been abducted from her Baghdad home on Wednesday night.

The militants' video shows two masked gunmen pointing a pistol at the head of a middle-aged woman with grey hair.

Baghdad highway after blast
Insurgents regularly target US troops while they are on the road

It comes a day after a new video appeal by hostage Margaret Hassan, in which she pleads for UK troops to leave Iraq.

Elsewhere, an explosion caused by a suspected car-bomb has killed at least one US soldier and an Iraqi national in southern Baghdad, the US military said.

Two US soldiers were wounded by the blast, which targeted a patrol as it was crossing a bridge.

US forces have continued their assault on the rebel-held city of Falluja, with a bombing raid on a house allegedly used by militants allied to al-Qaeda.

At least two people died in the raid, according to hospital officials.

The US is laying siege to Falluja in an effort to force out rebels it says are working for the alleged al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Mortar fire

British troops originally based in the relatively peaceful southern city of Basra are meanwhile moving northwards to relieve US soldiers for a likely assault on Falluja.

In other developments:

# A senior Iraqi diplomat was shot dead while returning to his home in Baghdad, according to the Iraqi foreign ministry

# A reporter working for independent Iraqi TV channel, Al-Sharqiya, was shot dead with her translator while driving in Baghdad, reports said

# Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Iraq came under mortar fire at a checkpoint in the centre of the country.


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