Kidnappers snatch 2 americans 1 briton from homes
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Posted on Fri, Sep. 17, 2004
Kidnappers snatch 2 Americans, 1 Briton
By Mariam Fam
The Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A team of kidnappers grabbed two Americans and a Briton in a dawn raid on their home on a leafy Baghdad street Thursday. The bold abduction underlines the increasing danger for foreigners in the embattled capital as violence soars ahead of national elections planned for early next year.
The U.S. Embassy identified the kidnapped Americans as Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, but the identity of the British man was not disclosed.
The three worked for Gulf Services Co., a construction company based in the United Arab Emirates. "They were doing work under contracts with them in Baghdad," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The abduction took place in the al-Mansour neighborhood, one of the most affluent in Baghdad. Foreign embassies and prominent Iraqi politicians are based in the neighborhood.
The team of about 10 attackers drove to the head of the tree-lined street in a minivan, walked up to the house, circumvented a concrete wall and snatched the Westerners without a gunfight, said Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman, an Interior Ministry official.
Ziad Tareq, 19, said he was walking down the street when he saw a man dressed in black, his face covered with a red Arab headdress, dragging one of the Westerners by the collar and pushing him into a car parked outside the house.
A neighbor, who identified herself only as Um Ibrahim, said she was awakened by the voices of men giving orders. "Walk. Get in," she said she heard men say in Arabic. "I thought they were stealing a car, and I was scared, but my mother told me that they might be some people fixing the generator," she said.
"These are kind people who have come to rebuild Iraq," she said. "Why did this happen to them?"
Neighbors knew the foreigners because they had allowed them to use their generator for electricity during Baghdad's sweltering summer.
One resident, who would give his name only as Majid for fear of reprisal, said he left his house about 6 a.m. during a power outage to turn on the communal generator.
"I noticed unusual movement in the garage. I heard voices that sounded like someone was trying to drag somebody else," he said. "I was frightened and left the area, but when I came back to the foreigners' house, I saw that the outer gate was open and the foreigners' car had gone."
Some neighbors said the men had been living at the house for several months and had maintained a low profile, rarely going out in evenings and receiving few visitors.
Several neighbors said the men had at least two guards who worked in shifts, and one said the guards were unarmed. Others said the guard hadn't shown up, prompting some of the foreigners to open their black iron gate and go out in their underwear during the power outage to turn on the generator. It wasn't clear if that was the moment the kidnappers seized to snatch the men.
There were no blast walls or signs of extra security outside the home of the two Americans and the Briton. Children in the house next door easily climbed the wall between the two buildings and peered down after the attack.
Early Friday, 40 miles north of Baghdad, police found the corpse of a man they believed to be a Westerner. The body was pulled from the Tigris River near the central Iraqi village of Yethrib, said Capt. Hakim al-Azawi, the head of security at Tikrit's Teaching Hospital. Police said it was unlikely that the body was that of either of the two Americans or the Briton.
Separately, U.S. forces launched attacks Thursday in the Sunni insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, killing up to 60 insurgents in strikes against allies of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a military statement said.
Foreigners taken hostage
Iraqi insurgents have kidnapped more than 120 foreigners in their campaign to drive out coalition forces and hamper reconstruction:
• Two Americans, Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, and a Briton were kidnapped Thursday in Baghdad. All three work for Gulf Services Company, a Middle East-based construction firm.
• Italian aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both 29. Abducted in Baghdad on Sept. 7.
• Christian Chesnot, 37, and George Malbrunot, 41, French journalists. Disappeared Aug. 21, apparently while driving toward Najaf.
• Faridoun Jihani, Iranian consul to Karbala. In a video made public Aug. 7, the kidnappers accuse Iran of meddling in Iraq's affairs.
• Vlada Abu Ghadi, Lebanese director of Lara construction company. Abducted July 31 in Baghdad.
• Raad Adnan, Iraqi general director of government-owned Al-Mansour Contracting Co. Kidnapped July 24.
• Aban Elias, 41, Iraqi-American. Held since May 3 by a group calling itself the Islamic Rage Brigade.
MISSING IN IRAQ
• U.S. Army Spc. Keith Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio. Disappeared April 9 after an attack on a fuel convoy. Arab television reported June 29 that he was killed but did not broadcast a video it said showed his shooting death. U.S. military officials could not confirm that a man shown being shot in the videotape was Maupin. The military officially lists him as missing.
• William Bradley and Timothy Bell. American contract truckers, last seen April 9 after a convoy was attacked.
SOURCE: The Associated Press