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Kuwait blames abduction on 'foreign terrorists'

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | July 23, 2004 23:46 IST


Kuwait is helping India in its attempt to secure the release of three of its citizens who are being held hostage in Iraq along with three others – two Kenyans and an Egyptian – by abductors who "could be foreign militants enjoying little or no support", Mubarak Owaidah al-Ajimi, information attache in the emirate's embassy in New Delhi, said today.

"We are doing all that we can. Our hearts go out to the families of the hostages, not only the three Indians but also the others who are suffering, as their loved ones are in the clutches of these criminals," al-Ajmi told rediff.com

"Those in their clutches are being held for no reason other than trying to help the Iraqi people in their country's reconstruction efforts," he said, adding that the company employing the six hostages is also working to secure their early release.

"I understand that it [the Kuwaiti company] is called Universal Services and is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that all those taken hostage are released as expeditiously as possible," he said.

"This group of terrorists is holding the entire Iraqi people hostage," he said. "Who are they to demand that [expatriate] workers working in various essential services in Iraq leave the country? They are trying to derail the movement of democracy in Iraq."

Al-Ajimi continued, "All concerned countries have to work together and stop terrorism in all its forms. It is a sad thing that such innocent people, who are non-combatants, are being held hostage. But these people who call themselves militants or freedom-fighters are not representing the Iraqi people.

"These terrorists are a microscopic minority who work in the dark perpetrating atrocities to achieve their misguided goals."

Al-Ajimi pointed out that the Kuwaiti ambassador to India is currently back in Kuwait and "we haven't received an official request from the [Indian] ministry of external affairs [to help release the Indian hostages].

"But we are extending our support, we are committed to helping out the hostages regardless of the situation."

The information officer said, however, that External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh is in touch with Kuwaiti officials and their Iraqi counterparts.

He claimed that an analysis of the demands of the abductors makes it apparent that "they are not Iraqis". This is because the Iraqi people at this "tumultuous juncture" of their history cannot be left to fend for themselves.

He said Kuwait had committed US $1.5 billion for Iraq's reconstruction through the Humanitarian Operation Centre and it reflected his country's resolve to make its neighbour a prosperous democracy.

He did not discount the possibility of some Ba'athists (members of the erstwhile ruling party of overthrown president Saddam Hussein) being among the masked gunmen holding the hostages.

"These terrorists could be foreign militants in league with some Ba'athists keen to churn up mayhem in Iraq, now that the country is gradually recovering from the traumatic regime of Saddam Hussein," he said.

"Some so-called freedom-fighters or mujahideen had entered Iraq during Saddam's regime, so that is why we say that foreign fighters could be present in this abduction. The Ba'athists now don't have a choice but to create murder and mayhem in Iraq."


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