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More Hostages Taken In Iraq As Crisis Deepens

Baghdad, 13 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The Italian Foreign Ministry today said four Italian civilians have been missing in Iraq since yesterday.

The announcement came as the Arabic television station Al-Jazeera aired a video of what it said were four Italian hostages. Their captors are demanding that Italy withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Earlier today, five Ukrainian and three Russian employees of a Russian energy firm who were kidnapped in Iraq were freed.

Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the Russian Duma, today said the wave of abductions in Iraq show that coalition forces are unable to control the situation in the country.

Meanwhile, there have been no reports of developments concerning the fate of three Japanese nationals kidnapped in Iraq last week.

Three Czech journalists and seven U.S. workers are missing and are feared to have been abducted.

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