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Iraq: Police Storm Berlin Embassy, Free Hostages

Berlin, 21 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Police in Berlin stormed the Iraqi Embassy there last night and freed two hostages held by an Iraqi opposition group. A police spokesman said five hostage-takers were arrested without incident during the operation by special forces.

Police said they knocked a loaded pistol out of the hands of one of the hostage-takers. German police did not fire any shots during the operation and the five hostage-takers did not resist.

Iraq's acting ambassador and a second hostage were freed. Police said the two suffered slight injuries. The hostage-takers had earlier released another two hostages.

The previously unknown Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany said they temporarily took over the embassy as a first step toward liberating Iraq. The group took control of the building after threatening staff with weapons.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry called the embassy takeover an "act of terrorism" and accused the United States and Israel of playing a role in the incident.