Iraqi Farmer Says Troops Taken Captive
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – An Iraqi farmer said yesterday that he saw seven heavily armed gunmen capture two American soldiers during an attack on a road checkpoint south of Baghdad, while American troops searched for their comrades for a second day.
Another Iraqi said the Americans were offering $100,000 for information leading to the abductors, but the American command denied that.
The White House promised to do everything it could to find the soldiers and said it had a message for anybody who may have taken the two men: “Give them back.”
Gunmen, meanwhile, kidnapped 10 bakery workers in Baghdad, and a mortar attack killed four people in the capital. Police also found 17 bodies around the city, including four women and a teenager handcuffed and shot in the head – apparently the latest victims of sectarian death squads.
American troops, backed by helicopters and warplanes, fanned out across the “Triangle of Death” south of Baghdad searching for the two missing servicemen, but the military offered no new information after saying Saturday that at least four raids had been carried out.
The predominantly Sunni region is the scene of frequent ambushes of American soldiers and Iraqi troops.
Ahmed Khalaf Falah, a farmer who said he witnessed the abduction of the Americans on Friday, said three Humvees were manning an American checkpoint near Youssifiyah, about 12 miles south of Baghdad, when they came under fire from many directions.
Two Humvees chased after the assailants, but the third was attacked before it could move, he told AP. Seven masked gunmen, including one carrying what appeared to be a heavy machine gun, killed the driver of the third vehicle, then took the other two soldiers captive, Mr. Falah said.
Mr. Falah said tensions were high in the area as American troops raided some houses and detained men in looking for the missing soldiers.
A Youssifiyah resident, who said his house was searched by American soldiers yesterday afternoon, said the Americans were using translators to offer $100,000 for information leading to those who took the soldiers.The U.S. military denied a reward had been offered. It said only that coalition and Iraqi forces were continuing the search.