Iraq: priest complains of daily kidnappings

 Kidnapping is Iraq is now a daily occurrence, a Catholic priest told Fides yesterday. Speaking from Mozul, Fr Nizar said: "The international press gives ample coverage to foreigners taken hostage in Iraq. This is right because all human life is sacred " - But, he added, "ordinary people in Iraq are suffering from a massive crime wave which does not get so much publicity." "Kidnapping is becoming a regular occurrence, with criminal gangs targetting anyone they think may have some money to pay a ransom." Fr Nizar said: "The kidnappers choose their target carefully according to the economic situation of the family. For example a man who owns a small factory should make about 10,000 dollars a month. Once the hostage has been taken the bartering begins. The criminals start by asking for 50,000 dollars ransom, but eventually agree to settle for 20,000 dollars. "Many Iraqis have lost their life savings because of kidnapping. Ordinary state officials and employees are also abducted and use all their savings to buy their freedom. "Not a day passes without a kidnapping. I think that at least 30-40 civilians are killed every day. When will this massacre stop? The police forces are trying to defeat these criminal gangs. A daily television programme reports on their progress. But more must be done." Fr Nizar said the situation was partly caused by the fact that just before the war Saddam Hussein, declared an amnesty, releasing thousands of convicted criminals from prison. "Besides kidnapping, drug trafficking is also spreading in Iraq and this is because there is not enough border control. Border control is necessary to prevent drugs, arms and terrorists from entering Iraq" Fr Nizar concluded. Source: Fides

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