World News

FACTBOX-Prominent kidnappings of foreigners in Iraq

(Reuters) - Gunmen in police uniforms captured five British citizens in a Baghdad Finance Ministry building on Tuesday, the Foreign Office said. They included an expert believed to have been teaching Iraqi staff, and four bodyguards working for Canadian-based firm GardaWorld.

Scores of foreign civilians have been kidnapped in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Most have been released, sometimes after the payment of ransom. Many were killed, especially in 2004 when Sunni insurgents frequently filmed gruesome beheading videos in an attempt to persuade Western countries to withdraw troops or aid workers.

Following is a list of some of the cases that led to major headlines around the globe:

* American telecommunications worker Nick Berg was abducted by insurgents in May, 2004. His decapitated body was found on a Baghdad overpass by a U.S. military patrol on May 8.

* South Korean translator Kim Sun-il was kidnapped on May 30, 2004. He was beheaded in a video released about three weeks later.

* French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot were captured on Aug 20, 2004 by insurgents who later demanded France repeal its law banning girls from wearing Muslim headscarves in schools. They were released on December 21, 2004.

* Italian aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta were kidnapped on September 7, 2004 and released after three weeks.

* Briton Kenneth Bigley and Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, all civil engineers working on reconstruction projects, were kidnapped on September 16, 2004. Captors released videos of the two Americans being beheaded about a week later, followed by a series of videos showing Bigley begging for his life and calling for British troops to withdraw. Bigley was murdered on October 7.

* Japanese citizen Shosei Koda was kidnapped in Oct 2004 and later shown beheaded in a video after Tokyo refused captors’ demands it withdraw its troops. Three other Japanese citizens were kidnapped in April, 2004 and held for about a week.

* British/Iraqi aid worker Margaret Hassan of CARE international was kidnapped on October 19, 2004 and is believed to have been murdered about four weeks later, after her captors released a video of her begging for her life. Her kidnapping sparked demonstrations by supporters in Iraq who called for her release.

* Prominent Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped by insurgents on February 4, 2005. She was released a month later, but while she was being driven to Baghdad airport her car came under fire from U.S. troops. She was wounded and one of the Italian intelligence officers who helped free her was killed.

* Christian peace activists Norman Kember of Britain, Tom Fox of the United States and James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden of Canada were captured on November 26, 2005. Fox was found dead on March 9, 2006. The others were rescued by UK-led special forces on March 23, 2006.

* U.S. reporter Jill Carroll from the Christian Science Monitor was kidnapped on January 7 2006 and released on March 30 that year.