Bomb as hostage wait continues

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

“According to a first count, there are seven killed and 16 wounded at Ibn al-Nafees hospital, but there are more casualties in other hospitals,” said an interior ministry official.

He said the blast occurred near the Baghdad hotel in central Baghdad at 9.40am.

Witnesses told AFP on the scene that the bomb missed its target, but set several other vehicles ablaze.

There has been no word on possible US casualties in the attack, which occurred close to the site of Saturday’s car bomb blast that killed 18.

Meanwhile, Australianf Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the fate of Australian hostage Douglas Wood remains uncertain after a deadline set by his Iraqi kidnappers passed.

The insurgents set a 72-hour deadline for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq, which expired at 5am on Tuesday.

Mr Downer said there has been no word from Mr Wood’s captors since the deadline expired, and much is being done to secure his release.

“We just don’t know what to think are we are continuing to work on this case,” said Mr Downer, speaking on Australian radio.

“It’s too unpredictable. The sense we have is that the people who have taken Douglas Wood are more politically driven. So that makes it hard to know how to handle it,” he said.

Top Muslim cleric in Australia, Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali, is arriving in Dubai en route to Baghdad, hoping to negotiate a two-day extension to the deadline so negotiators can work towards Mr Wood’s release.

Sheikh al-Hilali is hoping to organise a meeting with the captors through his Middle Eastern contacts, and will deliver news of an offer of a sizeable donation by Mr Wood’s family to the Iraqi people.

Mr Downer said he does not see the offer as a ransom or a bribe.

“We have no objection (to) doing what they (Mr Wood’s family) did,” he said.

“They’re saying that what they would do is they would put some money into a charity and that would benefit more broadly the Iraqi people,” he said, speaking on Southern Cross radio.

Meanwhile, a Japanese security contractor has reportedly been kidnapped in Iraq, as US forces said they killed 75 rebels in a sweep near the Syrian border for Iraq’s most-wanted man, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.

The Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed on a website that it had taken Akihio Saito, 44, after an ambush on a convoy in western Iraq.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Japan is in touch with the security company that employed Mr Saito.

“He seems to have been injured in a gunfight and taken hostage,” he said.

Workers from many countries are still being held by insurgents in Iraq.

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