Jordanian man becomes the first kidnap victim in Basra

A JORDANIAN-born businessman on a United Arab Emirates passport has been taken hostage in Basra, the first reported kidnapping in the southern city which is patrolled by British troops.

Wael Mamduh arrived in Basra two months ago, a coalition official said yesterday. He had been travelling on a United Arab Emirates passport when he was abducted five days ago.

At least 40 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq in recent weeks. Most have been released, after appeals from Sunni and Shiite clerics for insurgents not to target foreign civilians.

Three Czechs and one Canadian were released on Friday. Several foreigners are still missing. Three freed Japanese hostages arrived in the United Arab Emirates yesterday from Baghdad, but two of them have expressed a wish to carry on working in Iraq.

Nahoko Takato, 34, Soichiro Koriyama, 32, and Noriaki Imai, 18, were taken to a Dubai hospital. Ms Takato has said she would like to carry on with her aid work in Iraq and Mr Koriyama, a freelance journalist, is reported to have said he wants to stay in the country.

But Japan said it would be too dangerous for them to return to Iraq, where a spate of kidnappings has snared foreigners from at least a dozen countries this month.

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