Insurgents slay 11 Iraqi soldiers, post warning on militant website
Polish woman is kidnapped; demand made
BAGHDAD -- Insurgents slaughtered 11 Iraqi soldiers -- beheading one, then shooting the others execution-style -- and declared on an Islamic militant website yesterday that Iraqi fighters will avenge "the blood" of women and children killed in US strikes on the guerrilla stronghold of Fallujah.
The wave of foreigner kidnappings continued, with the abduction of a Polish woman in her 60s who is married to an Iraqi. Her captors demanded that Poland withdraw its 2,400 soldiers and that the US-led coalition free all Iraqi women held at Abu Ghraib prison.
The killing of the 11 Iraqi National Guardsmen was claimed by the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, which posted a videotape of their deaths on its website yesterday along with a warning for all Iraqi police and soldiers to desert or face death. The militants said earlier the soldiers were abducted this week on the road between Baghdad and Hillah, 60 miles to the south.
After forcing each of the soldiers to state his name and unit, the militants forced one of them to the ground and sawed off his head. The others were forced to kneel with their hands bound as a gunman fired shots into the back of their heads.
A voice on the videotape warned all Iraqi soldiers and police to "repent to God, abandon your weapons, go home, and beware of supporting the apostate Crusaders or their followers, the Iraqi government, or else you will only find death."
"We will not forget the blood of our elderly, our women and our children that is shed daily in Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi and elsewhere," a statement on the website said.
The Sunnah movement has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks and hostage takings, including the slaying of 12 Nepalese hostages in August.
Elsewhere, two more American soldiers were killed -- one in a car bombing in Baghdad and the other in an ambush near Balad, 40 miles north of the capital. At least 1,109 US service members have died since President Bush launched the Iraq war in March 2003.
US Marines also captured 16 suspected insurgents in a sweep south of Baghdad, bombed a suspected insurgent safe house in Fallujah, and clashed with guerrillas in Ramadi.
In Tokyo, authorities said they had failed to enlist the help of a prominent Iraqi cleric in trying to free a 24-year-old Japanese hostage.
An Al Qaeda affiliate led by Jordanian terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi threatened Tuesday to behead Shosei Koda in 48 hours unless Japan withdraws its troops -- a demand rejected by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Also yesterday, a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television showed two truck drivers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who were taken hostage. Al-Jazeera said the men, shown on the tape wearing flak jackets, worked for a Kuwaiti company.
The video of the Polish hostage, also aired on Al-Jazeera, showed a middle-aged woman with gray hair wearing a polka-dotted blouse sitting in front of two masked gunmen, one of whom was pointing a pistol at her head.
The woman was identified as Teresa Borcz-Kalifa by one of her former superiors at the Polish Embassy in Baghdad, where she worked in the 1990s. Leszek Adamiec told Poland's private Radio Zet that Borcz-Kalifa worked in the consular section until 1994.
The woman, a longtime resident with Iraqi citizenship, was believed to have been abducted Wednesday night from her home in Baghdad, Polish authorities said.
She was the ninth foreign woman abducted in Iraq since a wave of kidnappings began last spring. By comparison, Iraqi officials say that at least 152 Iraqis have been kidnapped this month -- the highest monthly total since the occupation began.
Borcz-Kalifa's abduction was claimed by the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Fundamentalist Brigades.
Her voice was not audible on the tape, but Al-Jazeera said she urged Polish troops to leave the country and for US and Iraqi authorities to release all female detainees from Abu Ghraib. The kidnappers did not mention a specific death threat or give a deadline.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Poland would not surrender "to the dictate of terrorists" by meeting the demands. Poland commands about 6,000 troops from 15 nations in three provinces south of Baghdad.
All but two foreign women hostages have been released, and in a statement issued yesterday in London, CARE International appealed for the release of Margaret Hassan, a British-Irish-Iraqi citizen who has headed the humanitarian organization's operations in Iraq since 1991.
"CARE has closed down all operations in Iraq," the statement said in English and Arabic. "Please release Mrs. Hassan to her family and friends in Iraq."
No group has claimed responsibility for kidnapping Hassan, but on a video aired Wednesday she was seen pleading for the withdrawal of British troops and the release of Iraqi women prisoners.
Several groups of hostage-takers have demanded the release of women prisoners in Iraq, including Zarqawi's organization. Two Americans and a Briton were beheaded last month after coalition forces refused the demand.
Meanwhile, the first wave of 75 British soldiers set up camp yesterday at their new base about 30 miles south of Baghdad, part of some 800 British troops moving closer to the capital to bolster US forces. Black Watch soldiers redeployed from Basra were told they will be pulled out of Iraq in early December, the British news agency Press Association reported.