Iraq condemns kidnapping of German engineers
25 January 2006, BERLIN/BAGHDAD - Germany's government has no information on who kidnapped two German engineers in Iraq earlier this week or what demands are being made for their release, a spokesman said Wednesday.
25 January 2006
BERLIN/BAGHDAD - Germany's government has no information on who kidnapped two German engineers in Iraq earlier this week or what demands are being made for their release, a spokesman said Wednesday.
"The motive for this kidnapping is totally open," said Thomas Steg, the deputy German government spokesman.
Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes both hostages, who were abducted by armed men on Tuesday, will soon be released unharmed, said Steg.
"The German government will do everything in its power ... to win the freedom of both men," said Merkel as quoted by Steg.
The men were kidnapped Tuesday in the northern city of Bayji, some 200 kilometres north-west of Baghdad. A third German managed to escape, Iraqi police said.
The missing men are employees of a Leipzig company, Cryotec GmbH, and had been sent to Iraq last week to help install machinery at a plant which manufactures cleaning agents.
The German Foreign Ministry has set up a crisis team to deal with the case.
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Shawiz condemned the kidnapping.
"It is a criminal and despicable act," he told Deutsche Presse- Agentur. He accused terror organizations and mercenaries from the former regime of Saddam Hussein of being behind the act.
"The Iraqi government is ready to cooperate with the German government to find out the fate of the abducted engineers," Shawiz said.
He said the kidnapping was aimed at discouraging foreign experts from taking part in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Shawiz also objected to any effort to release the kidnapped German nationals through ransom payments, but did not rule out that the kidnappers were going to ask for money.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said it was investigating the fate of both men but had no new information on the case.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier faced tough questioning on Tuesday after the kidnapping was first reported.
Asked about reports that Berlin paid some 5 million dollars to win the freedom of a German archaeologist kidnapped in Iraq last month and whether this might have encouraged a copycat crime, he gave a terse reply.
"Not the paying of a ransom but rather the (media) reports of a ransom being paid," said Steinmeier in remarks which have been widely quoted in Germany.
Steg declined to answer any further questions on speculation over a possible ransom but called on the media to exercise restraint in its coverage of the latest kidnapping.
Subject: German news