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Kidnappings of foreign civilians

Gunmen in police uniforms captured five British citizens in a Baghdad Finance Ministry building yesterday, the British Foreign Office said. 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.

May 2004 American telecommunications worker Nick Berg was abducted by insurgents. His decapitated body was found on a Baghdad overpass by a US military patrol on May 8.

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

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

Sept. 7, 2004 Italian aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta were kidnapped, then released after three weeks.

Sept. 16, 2004 Briton Kenneth Bigley and Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, all civil engineers working on reconstruction projects, were kidnapped. 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 Oct. 7.

October 2004 Japanese citizen Shosei Koda was kidnapped 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.

Oct. 19, 2004 British/Iraqi aid worker Margaret Hassan of CARE international was kidnapped, 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.

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

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

Jan. 7, 2006 US reporter Jill Carroll from the Christian Science Monitor was kidnapped. She was released on March 30 that year.

SOURCE: Reuters