R E G I O N: Bangladeshi hostage in Iraq identified
* Government appeals for release of truck driver
DHAKA: The Bangladesh government confirmed on Saturday the identity of one of its nationals taken hostage by militants in Iraq, officials said.
Abul Kashem, 42, a truck driver who works for a Kuwaiti transport company, was abducted near a US military base in Iraq last week, Minister for Overseas Employment Mohammed Quamrul Islam said.
“We are working closely with our ambassadors in the Middle East to locate and rescue him,” Islam told the news agency. He said the hostage-takers have made no contact with Bangladeshi authorities. The Foreign Ministry said it has asked Bangladeshi envoys in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar to monitor the situation.
On Thursday, the Arabic Al-Jazeera television channel aired a videotape showing two truck drivers kidnapped by a group called the Islamic Army while they were driving to a US military base in Iraq. The other driver was reportedly from Sri Lanka. Kashem, who comes from the eastern Bangladeshi district of Feni, has worked for the Kuwaiti transport company Al-Jashem for the past seven years, Islam said.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait has sought assistance from the International Red Crescent Society - the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross - in locating the hostage and negotiating his release, Ambassador Nazrul Islam Khan told ATN Bangla, a private television channel.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Morshed Khan appealed to the hostage-takers for Kashem’s release. “We are not involved in any conflict anywhere in the world. I make an appeal to the hostage takers on behalf of 140 million Bangladeshis to release the poor driver, who had gone to Iraq for his livelihood,” Khan said.
Bangladesh opposed the US-led war in Iraq, and has rejected requests from Washington to send troops there.
“We are deeply worried by the kidnapping ... and have asked our missions in Jordan and Kuwait to investigate the matter and inform us all details, including the name of the driver,” Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan told Reuters.
“Bangladesh is not a party to any conflict anywhere in the world and it only works to promote peace,” Khan said. “So I appeal to the kidnappers on behalf of all Bangladeshi Muslims to release the Bangladeshi driver and spare his life.
“We hope they (kidnappers) would show mercy to him in the holy month of Ramadan,” Khan said, adding that he had received information about the kidnapping early on Friday.
Iraqi militants also seized a truck driver who hails from Sri Lanka, Al Jazeera television said on Thursday. agencies