MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

28 April A spokeswoman for the UN Mission in Iraq announced that gunmen had kidnapped a local member of staff in Baquba, eastern Diyala province. She added the abduction had taken place near the government headquarters in the city. A local security officer reported that the victim was forced from his car during the day. The victim’s brother said that the family had received a ransom demand of USD100,000.

Syria

4 April An article appeared in the Islamic State (IS) magazine, Dabiq, under hostage John Cantlie’s by-line suggesting that IS has grown so strong that the United States and its allies will have no option but to acknowledge it as a country and will even have to consider a “truce”.

6 April The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a deal had been made between the Islamist Jaish al Mujahideen militant group to swap kidnap hostages held by them, 10 children and 15 women, for their military commander, Youssef Zawaa, who had been captured by fighters loyal to the government in August 2014. The women and children had been kidnapped more than one year ago from Shi’ite towns of Nubl and Zahraa in northern Aleppo province. Kidnap for ransom is common in Syria but trades between warring sides are infrequent.

25 April The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that two unnamed Swedish citizens had been released by their kidnappers who belonged to the al Nusra Front, a branch of al Qaeda. The Ministry gave no details of the case but Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem thanked the Palestinian and Jordanian authorities for obtaining the release of the hostages. The Palestinian ambassador in Sweden said the Palestinian security forces helped in negotiations that lasted more than two months.

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