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Damascus, Syria - Kidnapping in Baghdad became very common over the last 5 years. By 2004 more then 1000 Iraqis were kidnapped in Baghdad by criminal gangs demanding ransom. In 2005 kidnappings became so bad that white papers were written on strategies to combat kidnapping. Some of those who were kidnapped were released alive and some were killed even after a ransom was paid. Individuals on all sides of the conflict have been the target of kidnappings. Journalists have accounted for 51 of the thousands of kidnappings in Iraq, a far greater number than during the United States’ last major conflict in Vietnam. Although kidnappings of journalists have dropped off since 2006, according to Reporters Without Borders, at least fourteen kidnapped since early 2006 are still unaccounted for.
Kidnappings of foreign aid workers and journalists have largely dropped off due to these organizations instituting stringent security practices, all but preventing them from accomplishing their work, and nearly every foreign aid agency has now left Iraq, including the Christian Peacemaker Teams who left after four of their teammates were kidnapped in 2006, one of whom was killed. Iraqi civilians however continue to be targeted.
In 2006 Baghdad became a nightmare, more then 200 being kidnapped every day in Baghdad by gangs and militias. The bad security conditions exacerbated the criminal activities of militias and gangs over the last few years. No one goes out late at night or drives expensive cars on the streets of Baghdad. It became normal not to see any modern cars in Baghdad, due to the dangerous situation and the control of gangs in many Baghdad neighborhoods. The Iraqi morgue has filled with unknown corpses over the years. Some families travel every morning to the morgue, looking for their fathers, brothers, or other relatives, because in many cases though the family pays a ransom to the kidnapper they never received their loved one, so they go desperately searching for a corpse, and there are many kidnapped people who, to this moment, have never been found.
The Iraqi government is trying to stop the gangs and militias involved in kidnapping people, but there are some police patrols and military troops infiltrated by members of certain militias. In several cases they’ve been successful, but there are also many kidnappings still going on in areas outside Baghdad’s control.
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In: Iraq, Middle East
Tags: iraq, iraqi, syria, aliveinbaghdad, baghdad, alive, in, kidnap, kidnapping, militia, army, insurgent, criminal, criminals, gang, government
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