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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Analysis: Iraq's forgotten hostages
By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

Seven truck drivers - three Kenyans, three Indians and one Egyptian - held hostage in Iraq
The plight of some hostages in Iraq has attracted more attention than others
An Arabic-language website has posted images of the apparent killings of 12 Nepalese hostages in Iraq.

Nepal's ambassador to Qatar, Shyamanand Suman, confirmed the deaths.

The Nepalis were taken hostage earlier this month after entering Iraq to work as cooks and cleaners for a Jordanian company.

There are now about 20 hostages, of a dozen nationalities, still in captivity in Iraq.

Less clout

They include the two French journalists whose capture triggered the high-level intervention of the French government.

But most come from countries which do not have France's clout.

The biggest group was seven truck drivers - from Kenya, India and Egypt - kidnapped on a single day in July.

These men, along with dozens of other hostages - have since been freed after successful mediation efforts.

But many others have been killed, often in gruesome fashion - a Turkish laundry worker, a South Korean translator, an American businessman, two Pakistanis, two Bulgarian truck drivers and, just a few days ago, an Italian journalist.

It looks as if a variety of groups with a variety of agendas are involved.

Some of those kidnapped come from countries which have troops in Iraq, but others do not.

The kidnappers argue that anyone helping the Americans is a legitimate target.

Meanwhile - virtually unreported by the international media - the kidnapping of Iraqis for ransom has become commonplace, particularly in Baghdad.



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