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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Lebanese Worker Slain by Kidnappers; Turkish Hostages Freed

June 13, 2004|From Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Gunmen kidnapped three Lebanese nationals in Iraq, killing one and releasing another in return for a ransom, Lebanese officials said Saturday.

Hussein Ali Alyan, a Shiite Muslim from southern Lebanon who worked in construction, was shot to death overnight, said Mohammed Issa, the Foreign Ministry director-general. Issa provided no details but denied reports that Alyan was beheaded.

In Fallouja, seven captive Turkish contractors were released by their kidnappers, their employer said Saturday.

The kidnappers Saturday also suspended an earlier decision to execute an Egyptian and another Turk and urged the Turkish and Egyptian people to protest the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

It was not clear from the kidnappers' statement whether the decision to suspend the executions was temporary or final.

A Lebanese Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Alyan was tortured and killed in "grisly circumstances" and his body was dumped on a road near Baghdad.

The official said Alyan was killed for "financial reasons" but did not elaborate.

In a separate incident, two Lebanese identified as Habib Samour and Roger Haddad were abducted, the official said. Haddad was released, but Samour was still held by his kidnappers, the official said.

Haddad was freed after his parents negotiated with his captors and paid a ransom, Issa said. The amount was not known.

They were the first kidnappings of Lebanese in the rash of such events in Iraq during the last two months, though other nationalities, some of them Arab, have been targeted. It was not clear when the Lebanese were abducted or whether the same people were behind both incidents.

Issa said the government had no plans to call on Lebanese citizens to leave Iraq.

"The unstable security situation in Iraq is targeting everyone living there and not only the Lebanese," he said.

Hassan Hijazi, the Lebanese charge d'affaires in Baghdad, blamed "criminal gangs" for the kidnappings. He told the privately owned radio station Voice of Lebanon that gunmen wearing Iraqi police uniforms were kidnapping foreigners for ransom.

In Burj Barajneh, a suburb of Beirut, Alyan's parents, interviewed by Hezbollah's television station, Al Manar, said their son went to Iraq in January to work for a diesel company and that he was expected to return for a visit later this month.

"He told me, 'I am coming back this month.' So I started counting the days by minutes," his mother said, crying.

Alyan's brother, Ibrahim, said that in their last phone conversation, his brother said he was happy with his work in Iraq.

Ibrahim Alyan said a lack of jobs in Lebanon led his brother to Iraq, where he was paid $1,250 a month.

"Hussein went to Iraq to secure his future," his brother said.

Numerous foreigners have been taken hostage in recent months. Although many have been from nations that are part of the U.S.-led occupation coalition, Turks, Kuwaitis, Egyptians and Palestinians have been among the victims.

The kidnappers' motives haven't always been clear, but some victims have been ordered to stop working for companies doing business with the coalition.

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