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Germany

Five Britons Kidnapped in Baghdad

Five Britons were abducted in an incident near the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad Tuesday, the British Foreign Office said, adding that it was in "urgent" contact with Iraqi authorities.

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Security remains the biggest problem in Baghdad

"We can confirm that a group of five British nationals were abducted in an incident at the finance ministry in central Baghdad," said the spokeswoman, adding that it occurred at 11:40 a.m. local time.

"Officials from our embassy are in urgent contact with the Iraqi authorities to try to establish the facts and to secure a swift resolution," she told AFP news service.

Earlier in the day, news reports said that three Germans had been kidnapped, but the German government was unable to confirm them.

"I hope it stays that way," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a press conference at the end of a meeting between between Asian and European Union foreign ministers in Hamburg.

Initial reports from Baghdad said that four Germans -- thought to have been computer science experts training civil servants -- had been abducted from the Ministry of Finance building in the Iraqi capital.

AFP news agency had said the four had been taken out at gunpoint and driven off by men wearing the new uniforms of the Iraqi national police, a heavily-armed paramilitary unit under the interior ministry.

Later reports spoke of five Britons having been seized by gunmen wearing army or police uniforms.


In 2006, Baghdad went through a rash of kidnappings by large numbers of men wearing military-style uniforms, particularly those of the national police. The units were then issued new uniforms to distinguish them from criminals.

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