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Russia Seeking Release Of Eight Hostages In Iraq

Baghdad, 13 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Foreign Ministry says masked gunmen kidnapped eight employees of a Russian company in Iraq's capital Baghdad after breaking into their house.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Yakovenko, said today the Russian Embassy in Baghdad is trying to win the release of the hostages, who had been working to restore a power plant near the capital. He blamed the recent wave of abductions of foreigners on rising tensions in Iraq, and he called for the U.S.-led coalition to "cease all military operations as soon as possible."

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said five of the kidnapped workers are Ukrainian nationals.

In other developments, China's Xinhua news agency reports seven citizens of that country were released yesterday, one day after being abducted by gunmen.

And three Czech journalists and seven U.S. workers are missing and may have been abducted.