Aid Worker Slay Suspects Nabbed

2004/10/22 Image from Al-Jazzera tv showing kidnapped CARE International director Margaret Hassan, pleading for her life, Iraq, video still
An unspecified number of suspects were detained Sunday in the abduction of a British aid worker believed killed last year, the U.S. military said.

Iraqi forces backed by the U.S. military recovered a number of articles apparently related to Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE international in Iraq, during an early morning raid south of Baghdad, the British and U.S. Embassy said.

A number of suspects were apprehended, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Darryl Wright said. No further details were provided.

"We can confirm that there was a raid carried out on a house in the early hours of the morning. U.S. forces contacted our forces when they discovered articles which appeared to belong to Margaret Hassan," said Martin Cronin, first secretary at the British Embassy in Baghdad. "We believe this is the first evidence that's been found regarding her since her death."

British authorities were carrying out urgent further investigations and liaising with U.S. and Iraqi authorities, Cronin said.

In other developments:

  • A car bomb exploded at the funeral of a Kurdish official in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing 20 Iraqis and wounding more than 30, an official said. Ten people were killed Sunday in other attacks. At least 110 people, including 11 U.S. soldiers, have died since Iraq's first democratically elected government was approved on Thursday in violence aimed at deflating hopes in Washington and Baghdad that the installation of the new government would curb the insurgency.
  • Sunday marks the second anniversary of the day President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq beneath a banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln that proclaimed "Mission Accomplished."
  • Italy is contending that its report on the U.S. soldiers' slaying in Baghdad of an Italian intelligence agent will shed light on problems with coordination among authorities in Iraq and with rules of engagement for checkpoints. Italy's report will be made public on Monday, providing its own version of the March 4 "friendly fire" shooting of agent Nicola Calipari, who had just won the release of an Italian hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

    Hassan, 59, who also held Irish and Iraqi citizenship, was kidnapped on her way to work in Baghdad on Oct. 19. Her captors later issued videos showing her pleading for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq and calling for the release of female Iraqi prisoners.

    On Nov. 16, the Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera said it had received a video showing a hooded militant shooting a blindfolded woman in the head. British officials said they believed the woman in the video was Hassan, and her family said they believed she was dead. However, no body was recovered.

    Hassan had lived in Iraq for 30 years and was married to an Iraqi. She was renown for her work distributing food, medicine and supplies to Iraqis suffering under the sanctions of the 1990s.

    Her fate caused shock and anger here, in Britain and in Ireland, where she was born. News of progress in investigating her case came just days before the British election on Thursday.