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German government pursues efforts to free Iraq hostage; tightlipped on details - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BERLIN (AP) – The German government said Saturday it was making intense efforts to secure the release of an aid worker in Iraq, but declined to comment on a report that her kidnappers may have an Arab nationalist background.

The weekly Der Spiegel, which cited no sources, said the group that took Susanne Osthoff used the name &#34Saraya al-Zilzal,&#34 or &#34Brigades of the Earthquake.&#34

That, it said, led German officials to suspect it may have Arab nationalist links, as a group of a similar name has cooperated with the Ishrin Brigades, or 1920 Revolution Brigades, whose declared aim is to liberate Iraq from foreign military and political occupation.

Osthoff, 43, was seized along with her driver on Nov. 25.

In a video made public on Tuesday, kidnappers threatened to kill her unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government.

While German officials have yet to establish contact with Osthoff”s captors, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany will not be &#34blackmailed.&#34

The German Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the report of the kidnappers” name or on reports by Der Spiegel and another weekly, Focus, that the kidnappers” ultimatum expired in the early hours of Friday.

Speaking on customary condition of anonymity, a spokesman said only that the Berlin government would &#34pursue its efforts intensively&#34 in the case.

Germany was an ardent opponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has refused to send troops there, but has been training Iraqi soldiers and police outside the country.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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