Red Cresent workers kidnapped as Blair visits Iraq

Sunday, December 17, 2006

An Iraqi group of commandos infiltrated a Red Cresent office today, and kidnapped at least 24 members of the only humanitarian organization to work in all 18 of Iraq's provinces. 6 of them have been released, a spokesperson said.

Blair was to discuss pulling troops out of Iraq within the next year or so, though thousands of Iraqis say they feel safer with British and American troops in the area.

"Our task — ours, the Americans, the whole of the coalition, the international community and the Iraqis themselves — is to make sure that the forces of terrorism don't defeat the will of the people to have a democracy," Blair said.

Britain has some 7,000 troops in Iraq, based near Basra in the south — the largest commitment of any country after the United States. More than 120 British personnel have died in the country since the original invasion in 2003.