Iraqi militants holding a German woman and her adult son hostage said yesterday they were giving Germany a new deadline of 10 days to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan or the two would be killed.
The Arrows of Righteousness group posted a video on the Internet showing Hannelore Marianne Krause urging Germans to press their government to heed the demands of the militants. She broke down in tears at one stage.
The group had issued an earlier ultimatum on March 10 that it would kill the pair if Berlin failed to pull its troops out of Afghanistan. The two were seized from their home in western Baghdad in early February.
"I urge the German people to help me in my difficult situation," said Krause, according to an Arabic translation of her comments, only parts of which could be heard.
"Germany was safe before it got involved in this satanic coalition with America against what they call terrorism," said Krause, shown sitting on the ground next to her son.
Germany, which opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, has about 3,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force stationed in the country after US-led troops toppled the Taliban in 2001.
"Maybe for the last time ... I urge you. Perhaps you can go to the newspapers, perhaps you can organize a protest march ... contact people who can help you, please, please, please," she said, addressing a son and daughter living in Germany.
In Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the new deadline. She said that a crisis team at the ministry was working intensively on the case.
A militant speaking on the video but out of sight said: "We are giving the German government another 10 days to begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan or we shall kill this criminal woman and her son who works in the Foreign Ministry of the government of [Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-] Maliki."
The militant said the woman was targeted partly because she worked at the Austrian embassy in Baghdad.
"Austria is a government hostile to Islam and Muslims and it also has troops to kill our children in Afghanistan," he said.
Krause said: "I also urge Austria to stand by me as I have worked many years at the [Austrian] commercial section ... Austria also has troops in Afghanistan and now I am going to be killed for that. I urge you to please help me."
Austria said last month it had five officers in Afghanistan and was not planning to send more troops.
Krause is married to an Iraqi and moved to Iraq 40 years ago. Her son is reported to be in his mid-20s and has dual German-Iraqi citizenship.
The German government has said it is working to try to secure the hostages' release but will not be blackmailed.
Meanwhile nine more people have been abducted in Iraq's flashpoint province of Diyala, police said yesterday, a day after the bodies of 21 Shiite workers snatched in similar circumstances were uncovered.
The nine electrical company workers were kidnapped at gunpoint on their way home from work on Monday near the Shiite town of Khalis, often used as a killing ground by presumed Sunni extremists.
The 21 Shiites, whose bodies were discovered on Monday, were also kidnapped on their way back from work after gunmen ambushed their minibuses on the main road out of Baghdad to Diyala.
Police in Diyala also said four insurgents were killed in Khalis yesterday when a car bomb they were intending to blow up detonated by accident.
Elsewhere, attacks killed three Iraqi civilians in Baghdad and three policemen in other cities, security officials said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year