02/17/2011, 00.00
IRAQ

Kirkuk: kidnapped Christian freed after family pays ransom

Iyad Salman Dawoud Askar, a married father of two, was kidnapped February 13. The kidnappers had demanded a sum of 50 thousand dollars for his release. In 2009, the man lost his brother, killed during a kidnapping attempt. AsiaNews sources: expectations and hope for the events in the Middle East, but fear of more violence remains.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Iyad Salman Dawoud Askar, a Catholic of Kirkuk, kidnapped on February 13 by a group of criminals was released last night by his abductors upon payment of a ransom. At the moment, there is no confirmation on the total amount paid by the family. AsiaNews sources in the host city greet the happy ending withwith "joy and satisfaction", but do not hide their fear for the future of Iraq and the Christian community.

On 13 February, a group of armed men kidnapped Iyad Salman Dawoud Askar, a 53 year old Catholic and married father of two children (one boy and one girl). The man was taken by the criminals in front of his home, in the Dor al- Zira'a area, close to Ithifalat square, in the south-west of the city.

At first the kidnappers asked for 50 thousand dollars ransom. Police sources confirmed the payment of a sum of money, but the amount paid for his release late yesterday afternoon, is unknown. The family of Askar in 2009 had been the victim of a kidnapping attempt. On that occasion he his brother Sabah Daud Askar was killed.

AsiaNews sources in Kirkuk, anonymous for security reasons, express "joy and satisfaction" for his release. Recent events have led to moments of "expectation and hope" but also "fear for what happens in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East." Hope a movement for democracy will be born and, at the same time, fears of fundamentalist drift which could take over these events. "The extremists - concludes the source - may start targeting us again." (DS)

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