08/26/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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Karakosh - Baghdeeda: a Christian originally from Mosul is kidnapped

Louyaé Behnam was kidnapped yesterday by a group of armed men. The family has already paid a ransom of 15 thousand dollars, but the kidnappers have not yet released the man. Throughout the country attacks continue after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - A Syrian Catholic Christian was kidnapped yesterday in Karakosh - Baghdeeda by a group of armed men, who immediately after the abduction demanded a ransom of 15 thousand U.S. dollars. Local sources told AsiaNews that the family has already paid the sum, but the kidnappers have not yet released the man. Louyaé Behnam, 35, is originally from Mosul, where until a few years ago he ran a glaziers shop. For security reasons, he moved along with his family Karakosh - Baghdeeda 30 km from Mosul. The city is located in a Christian majority district of Karakosh (Nineveh Plain), and is home to many displaced Christians from Mosul and Baghdad.

Northern Iraq has long been the scene of targeted attacks against the Christian community, the centre of a power struggle between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. According to Christians attacks are linked to the creation of a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh, which the government does nothing to counter.

The announcement of the withdrawal of the last contingent of U.S. troops, which marks the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, "only adds to the climate of general insecurity. For six months Iraqis have been waiting for the formation of a government and the country is being taken over by criminal gangs and Islamic extremists.

Yesterday, more than 50 people were killed in a series of attacks that struck the city of Kirkuk, Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul, Basra, Ramadi and Karbala. Official sources said the attacks are the work of the extremists of al-Qaida, but local sources say that "the attacks are politicized and al-Qaida has nothing to do with them. Their purpose is to intimidate the population".
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