29 November 2005
BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday strongly condemned the abduction of a German archaeologist in Iraq and urged her abductors to release her.
"The German government condemns this in the strongest terms," Merkel said, adding that Germany would undertake all efforts to secure the safe return of the woman and her driver, who were abducted on Friday.
The abductors released a video to German public television broadcaster ARD in Baghdad overnight, in which the abductors demanded the German government cease cooperation with the Iraqi government and threatened to kill the hostages.
ARD said the terms outlined an "extremely brief time limit".
German television broadcaster N24 named the woman as archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, 43, from Bavaria and said she had been in Iraq for years and spoke fluent Arabic.
The German Foreign Ministry immediately set up a crisis team to deal with the incident, the first case of a German abducted in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Osthoff's mother told national television her daughter had helped organize aid deliveries of medicines and medical equipment to Iraq for years.
She called on the German government to do all it could to help her daughter, whom she has not seen for five years.
Germany did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schroeder refusing to back the U.S.
No German troops have been stationed in the country at any stage and Germany refuses to assist with training Iraqi forces inside the country, helping only with training in the region but outside Iraq's borders.
Subject: German news
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