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Kidnapped Egyptian workers freed

U.S. troops at a checkpoint Monday freed four Egyptian technicians kidnapped the previous day in Baghdad and arrested some of the abductors, an Egyptian diplomat said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

U.S. troops manning a checkpoint Monday found four Egyptian technicians who had been kidnapped the previous day in Baghdad, freeing them and arresting some of the abductors, an Egyptian diplomat said.

“It’s the Americans who freed them,” Farooq Mabrouk, head of the Egyptian mission, told The Associated Press. “They were released and they will come to the embassy.”

He said the Americans had “made some arrests” but gave no further information.

The four were seized Sunday on their way to work in western Baghdad. They were employed by a subcontractor for an Iraqi mobile telephone company.

Six other Egyptians working for Iraqna were kidnapped in two separate incidents in September. Four were freed quickly and the last two were released in October.

Orascom has said that despite the kidnappings, the company is committed to continuing its work in Iraq.

Italian journalist
In a separate kidnapping, an Internet statement posted Monday in the name of the militant group alleged to be holding an Italian journalist said she would be released in a few days.

epa000362154 ROM02 - A file photo of July 2,2003 of the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena who was kidnapped in Baghdad February 4,2005. Giuliana Sgrena of left-wing daily 'Il Manifesto' was driving with her interpreter to a mosque near Baghdad University when a group of armed men stopped the vehicle and took her away. The kidnapping was confirmed by Iraqi security forces. Italy has lost four hostages in Iraq: a security guard, a free-lance reporter, an Italian-Iraqi businessman and Italian-born naturalised Briton who was trying to reach an aid group. Two Italian women aid workers were held for three weeks and released last summer . EPA/GIUSEPPE GIGLIA/00362154/0502041335G. Giglia / ANSA

Giuliana Sgrena, a 56-year-old reporter for the communist daily Il Manifesto, was kidnapped on Friday near Baghdad University.

A group calling itself the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed to have kidnapped the woman and gave Italy 72 hours to withdraw its troops from Iraq. But it made no threats to kill her or say what would happen if its demands were not met.

“After the judicial committee of the Jihad Organization interrogated the Italian captive Giuliana Sgrena, it has been found that the Italian captive is not involved in spying for the infidels in Iraq,” the group said in a statement posted on a Web site that frequently carries messages from Islamic militants.

“In response to the appeal made by the Muslim Scholars’ Association, we, in the Jihad Organization, will free the Italian captive in the next few days,” the statement added.

The statement’s authenticity could not be verified.

Italy has around 3,000 troops in Iraq, the coalition’s third largest contingent after those of the United States and Britain.