Video Of Germans Held In Iraq Airs

Rene Braeunlich, German engineer missing in Iraq, 2004/7/21
Al-Jazeera television broadcast a videotape Friday showing two German engineers abducted this week in northern Iraq, and the station said they appealed to the German government to work for their release.

The two engineers were shown seated on the ground with at least four armed men behind them. The tape was dated Jan. 24, the day they were abducted in the northern industrial city of Beiji.

The two men were seen speaking but Al-Jazeera did not broadcast any audio and the station did not report any demands beyond the German government working for their release.

The tape showed a handwritten black banner "Supporters of Tawhid and Sunnah Brigades." Tawhid is the Arabic word for monotheism and Sunnah refers to the teachings of the prophet Muhammad.

The victims, identified by relatives as Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, arrived in Iraq on Jan. 22 and only planned to remain "for a short time," the German Foreign Ministry said.

They were working for a German company in Leipzig which has a commercial relationship with an Iraqi government-owned detergent company in Beiji, an industrial town about 155 miles north of Baghdad.

In Berlin, Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler told ARD television that no contact had been made with the kidnappers and a ministry crisis unit "is working constantly to save the two engineers."

In other developments:

  • Iraqi special forces backed by U.S. troops raided houses in Baghdad on Friday and detained at least 35 suspected insurgents, police said. The operation began was conducted in several southwestern Baghdad neighborhoods, with security forces searching homes, stopping cars at checkpoints and frisking people, said Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi. There have been many ambushes and drive-by killings in this sector of Baghdad during the past week.
  • A U.S. government audit shows billions of dollars in projects to improve water, sewer and electrical systems in Iraq could not be completed because the money had to be used to increase security. The audit found that nearly one-third of the $18.4 billion that Congress appropriated for Iraq relief and reconstruction in 2003 has been shifted to address the new priorities and heightened security as of last September 30th.
  • An Iraqi baby recovering from spinal surgery arranged by U.S. troops in her homeland was released from the hospital. Doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta had been monitoring Noor al-Zahra after inserting a tube to drain fluid from her back last week. The hospital said in a statement Friday that she was in good condition and was expected to return for a checkup next week.