- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

BAGHDAD — Car bombs killed at least a dozen persons in Baghdad and another major city yesterday as kidnappers of a British-Iraqi aid worker threatened to kill her.

Al Jazeera television reported that the kidnappers of Margaret Hassan threatened to turn her over to al Qaeda-linked militants notorious for beheading hostages unless Britain agreed within 48 hours to pull its troops out of Iraq.

Al Jazeera said it received a videotape showing Mrs. Hassan, a Dublin-born British citizen married to an Iraqi, but decided not to air it because of its graphic content.

There was no word on an American, a Filipino and a Nepalese abducted Monday night in Baghdad, although the kidnappers freed two Iraqi guards who also were captured in the bold attack.

In northern Iraq yesterday, saboteurs blew up an oil pipeline and attacked an oil well, violence that is expected to stop oil exports for the next 10 days, Iraqi oil officials said. Iraq’s oil industry, which provides desperately needed money for reconstruction efforts, has been the target of repeated attacks by insurgents.

At least eight persons, including a woman, died early yesterday when an explosives-laden car slammed into concrete blast walls and protective barriers surrounding the Iraqi Education Ministry and exploded in Baghdad’s Sunni Muslim district of Azamiyah.

Ten others were injured, including a 2-year-old girl, Al-Numan Hospital reported. Officials at Baghdad Medical City Hospital said two more persons were killed and 19 were injured.

In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded near a military convoy carrying an Iraqi general, killing four civilians and wounding at least seven soldiers.

Iraqi police said the attack was an assassination attempt on Maj. Gen. Rashid Feleih, commander of a special task force, who was not injured. Gen. Feleih apparently was on his way to a press conference to talk about the role of the task force, police and press reports said.

Al Jazeera yesterday broadcast a video of a hooded gunman believed to represent the kidnappers of Mrs. Hassan, but did not air the sound. The newscaster said the kidnappers gave Britain 48 hours to meet their demands, “primarily the withdrawal” of British troops.

Otherwise, Mrs. Hassan, 59, will be handed over to al Qaeda in Iraq, the group led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi. His followers have beheaded at least six hostages.

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office and the British Foreign Office both declined to comment on the reported demand. Britain has 8,500 troops in Iraq, the second-largest contingent after the United States.

Word of the tape first came from Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who told Parliament it showed Mrs. Hassan pleading for her life directly to the camera before suddenly fainting, the British news agency Press Association reported.

Mr. Ahern, who had not seen the video, said a bucket of water then was thrown over Mrs. Hassan’s head and she was videotaped lying wet and helpless on the ground before getting up and crying.

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