- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

BAGHDAD — Two German engineers abducted this week in northern Iraq appealed to the German government to work for their release in a videotape broadcast yesterday by an Arab TV station. It was the first sign of the pair since they were seized three days ago.

The tape showed the two engineers, identified by relatives as Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, seated on the floor with at least four armed men standing behind them.

The timer shown in the corner of the tape, aired by Al Jazeera television, indicated it was filmed Jan. 24 at 10:08 a.m., less than two hours after the men were abducted in the northern industrial city of Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.

“The [German] government condemns this cruel kidnapping in the strongest possible terms,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the video was aired. “We appeal urgently to the perpetrators to release our two compatriots without delay.”

Elsewhere, violence raged in Baghdad’s tense southwestern suburbs as hundreds of police raided homes hunting for insurgents and clashed with more than 30 armed men for several hours. An Associated Press photographer saw the bodies of at least three persons, all apparently civilians, who were shot by insurgents, witnesses said.

Also, the governor of the southern city of Basra threatened to stop dealing with British forces unless they release five Iraqi men detained Tuesday, including policemen suspected of links to local killings and kidnappings. Basra is the main base for the roughly 8,000 British forces in Iraq.

Gov. Mohammed al-Waeli called for a mass demonstration tomorrow outside the British Consulate to demand the release of the five men. Nine others have been freed.

Several hours later, a market bombing killed one woman and wounded three others, police said. Witnesses claimed a man stepped out of a police vehicle and planted the bomb.

Another Iraqi woman was fatally shot in western Baghdad’s Baiyaa district by policemen firing into the air while trying to clear blocked traffic, police Lt. Aqil Fadil said.

A roadside bomb in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, missed a passing U.S. military patrol but killed two Iraqi civilians and wounded two others, Iraqi army Capt. Ibrahim Abdullah said.

At least five foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq this month — including two Kenyan communications engineers missing after a Jan. 18 ambush in Baghdad and American journalist Jill Carroll, who was seized Jan. 7 in the capital. Her translator was killed.

Miss Carroll’s kidnappers have threatened to kill the 28-year-old freelancer unless all Iraqi women are freed from custody.

The U.S. military released five female Iraqi detainees Thursday, and a top Iraqi police official, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamel, expressed hope the move might help win Miss Carroll’s freedom. Gen. Kamel said intense efforts were underway in Baghdad to find Miss Carroll.

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