Iraq: US soldier dies in attack near Mosul as two Pakistanis, state company director kidnapped
A U.S. soldier with the 1st Infantry Division was killed by a roadside bomb in northern Iraq on Saturday, Army spokesman Master Sgt. Robert Powell said Sunday.
Powell said the soldier was escorting a fuel convoy near Beiji, located around 145 kilometer south of the northern city of Mosul, when the bomb went off and died later of wounds suffered in the blast. Another soldier was hospitalized in stable condition.
Meanwhile, Iraq's hostage crisis escalated with the seizure of a state company director and the apparent abduction of two Pakistanis, as Egyptian and Iraqi officials sought the release of a kidnapped Egyptian diplomat and a truck driver.
The caretaker government in Baghdad said it was working closely with the Egyptians to free the diplomat, who was seized on Friday, two days after the trucker.
"The government is working hard to get the release of the hostages. It is in constant contact with the Egyptian embassy," Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid al-Bayati told a press conference. "The government has had several meetings today to discuss the crisis."
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, on a visit to Damascus, cautioned Cairo not to cave in to the kidnappers' demands, urging it not to follow the example of Manila, which withdrew troops from Iraq in exchange for the freedom of a Filipino hostage.
"There is no way to give to terrorists what they want. It was regrettable that the Philippines (did so)," said Allawi. "We hope that the hostage is going to be released. The Iraqi government will do its best."
In the meantime, in Islamabad, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said two Pakistanis working in Iraq were feared kidnapped. "We have learned through our mission in Baghdad that two Pakistani men working for Al-Tamimi group of industries have disappeared," said ministry spokesman Masood Khan.
The Pakistanis, identified as Azad, a maintenance engineer using only one name, and Sajjad Naeem, a driver, disappeared as they were returning to Baghdad at around mid-day on Friday. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)