Abductors want USD 12m for Germans: report

18th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 April 2006, BERLIN - Kidnappers of two German engineers seized in Iraq 11 weeks ago are seeking a ransom of 12 million dollars, the news magazine Focus reported Friday.

18 April 2006

BERLIN - Kidnappers of two German engineers seized in Iraq 11 weeks ago are seeking a ransom of 12 million dollars, the news magazine Focus reported Friday.

The sum was conveyed to the German Foreign Ministry by Iraqi mediators working to obtain the men's release, the magazine quoted sources in the security services as saying.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.

The newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said a Foreign Ministry crisis team dealing with the hostage-taking had been informed of a much lower ransom demand than the figure mentioned by Focus.

After studying a video released by the kidnappers on April 9, the government in Berlin believes the two hostages might have been "sold" by their original abductors to a criminal gang, Focus said in its online edition.

Changing political demands by the kidnappers were considered in Berlin as a possible attempt to cover up the criminal background to the abduction, the report said.

Thomas Nitzschke, 28, and Rene Braeunlich, 32, were seized on January 24 in Bayji while they were on their way to do contract work at an Iraqi factory.

In the latest video, Nitzschke appealed for help to the German government.

"We've been in captivity here for more than 60 days. We are at the end of our tether. We can't stand it any longer. Help us please," Nitzschke said in German in the video which appeared on an Islamist website.

There had been no word on their fate since an early February video message.

The video, only a few seconds long, was the fourth to be issued by the abductors, who have not identified themselves.

The film appeared to have been made on March 28. A printed message in Arabic appeared to threaten the men with murder.

A banner running through the video said in Arabic, "In the name of God the Merciful, Battalion of the Supporters of Tawhid and Sunna." It also contained a black panel with a "final ultimatum" demanding US forces release prisoners in Iraq.

"If you do not meet our demands to release the detained men and women from the prisons and if you do not cease all support for the Americans and their helpers, you will immediately suffer the just penalty," it said, according to one translation.

Relatives and friends of the two engineers staged a vigil in support of the men in their hometown of Leipzig on Thursday evening.

The employer of the two, Peter Bienert of the firm Cryotec near Leipzig, had earlier complained that he was not receiving enough information from the foreign ministry about efforts to secure the men's release. Bienert had been criticized for sending the men to Iraq.

DPA

Subject: German news

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