First Published: 2004-10-28

Polish woman taken hostage in Iraq

Iraq armed group calling itself Abu Bakr Siddiq Al-Salafiya demands Poland withdraw its troops from Iraq.


Middle East Online

Polish hostage works for the American forces in Iraq: Armed group

DOHA - Arabic television station Al-Jazeera broadcast a video Thursday in which an armed group in Iraq said it had kidnapped a Polish woman

In Warsaw, private TVN television said the woman worked for the US military, but that it was unclear whether she was Polish or Polish-American.

The Polish army general staff in Warsaw said it was unable to confirm the kidnapping, while Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski rejected demands to withdraw Poland's 2,500 troops from Iraq.

"The Polish government is not in the business of meeting kidnappers' demands," Szmajdzinski told TVN.

He said the woman could be an employee of a private contractor working for the US-led forces in Iraq, but that she was definitely not attached to the Polish contingent.

The woman might be either Polish or a US citizen of Polish origin, the minister added.

In the Al-Jazeera video, a group calling itself Abu Bakr Siddiq Al-Salafiya demanded the withdrawal of Polish forces in Iraq.

The woman was wearing a pink dress and was seated in a chair, with one of two hooded armed men pointing a pistol at her head.

Al-Jazeera quoted the group as saying the woman "works for the American forces in Iraq" and that "she will only be freed in return for a withdrawal of Polish soldiers from Iraq."

A close ally of Washington in the Iraq conflict, Poland commands a 6,000-man multinational force in a sector south of Baghdad, of which 2,500 are Polish soldiers.

But Polish officials have indicated they want to end the unpopular troop deployment, possibly by the end of next year, and have criticized the United States for failing to provide enough military aid to Poland.

According to opinion polls, 70 percent of Poles are opposed to the presence of Poland's troops in Iraq.

In June, a Polish contractor was freed a week after being kidnapped from the office of a Polish company in the Iraqi capital.

Coalition forces in Iraq rescued the Pole and three Italian hostages in a bloodless sweep.


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