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Kidnapped Catholic Archbishop In Iraq Freed

18 January 2005 -- The Vatican says kidnappers have released a Catholic archbishop a day after his abduction, with no ransom paid.

Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of the Syrian Catholic Church was kidnapped by gunmen in the city of Mosul yesterday.

Earlier today, a Catholic missionary news agency reported that captors had demanded $200,000 in ransom for the release of the 66-year-old archbishop. The report by Misna quoted the head of the Chaldean Catholic community in Mosul, who said kidnappers had allowed Casmoussa to speak by telephone to an aide in the city.

Christians make up just 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people. The major Christian groups include Chaldean Assyrians and Armenians with small numbers of Roman Catholics.

(compiled from wire reports)

[For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]