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Gunmen Kill Nine Iraqis As Five Westerners Remain In Captivity

30 November 2005 -- Masked gunmen in Iraq opened fire on a minibus north of Baghdad today, killing nine people and wounding two.

The dead are believed to be Iraqis who had been employed on farms near Baquba. Police initially said they had been employed on a nearby U.S. military base.

Meanwhile, five Westerners remain in captivity in Iraq. Four peace activists -- two Canadians, a Briton, and an American -- were shown in a videotape released by a previously unknown group called the Swords of Righteousness Brigades. The group accuses the Westerners of being "spies."

The four are members of an aid group called Christian Peacemaker Teams, which says it opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, speaking 29 November on Canadian television, said the activists were doing strictly humanitarian work.

"These are people who are in [Iraq] for humanitarian purposes, who went there to help the citizens of Iraq," Martin said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on kidnappers to release a German archaeologist and her Iraqi driver. In a videotape, the kidnappers say they will kill the two unless Germany stops all cooperation with Iraq.


Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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