Three Romanian journalists kidnapped in Baghdad!
The journalists went missing Monday, shortly after an interview with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, said Petre Mihai Bacanu, director of the Romania Libera newspaper, where kidnapped reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian worked.
Prima TV, where kidnapped reporter Marie Jeanne Ion and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci worked, reported that the three were kidnapped in Baghdad's al-Mansur quarter. Ion made a phone call to the newsroom, speaking a mixture of Romanian, Arabic and English and telling colleagues they were being kidnapped, the station said in a statement.
''Don't kill us, we are from a poor country and we have no money,'' the statement quoted Ion as saying.
She later sent a text message to the station, saying ''Help, this is not a joke, we've been kidnapped.''
Dan Dumitru, news director at Prima TV, said the two journalists were in Iraq for five days to interview Allawi and interim President Ghazi al-Yawer.
He said that Ion called during an editorial meeting on Monday and he put the phone on speaker.
''Marie-Jeanne was begging in English and in Arabic 'to be left alone,''' he said. ''Their translator said that they were from Romania, a poor country, and don't have money to pay a ransom.''
''All I know (is) they have been taken by force and we can't reach them any more,'' Dumitru told private television station Realitatea TV.
Romania's Foreign Ministry set up a team to coordinate efforts to find the three, a statement said.
Romania's President Traian Basescu, who was in Iraq and Afghanistan for two days visiting Romanian troops, said upon returning to Bucharest on Tuesday that his government was doing all it could to find the journalists. Basescu said Romania had sought help from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said no one has contacted Romanian authorities demanding a ransom.
Romania has about 800 troops in Iraq and about 500 in Afghanistan.
Romanian President Traian Basescu called today on coalition forces in Iraq to help secure the release of three journalists who were kidnapped last night.
"We have alerted all the secret services and the foreign intelligence services of our allies to solve the case," Mr Basescu told the Romanian TVR1 television after the three journalist were snatched on Monday night.
The disappearance of the three Romanians is just the latest kidnaping incident involving journalists in Iraq but the first one involving Romanian journalists.
Earlier this month Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was freed after the intervention of the Italian secret service, after nearly four weeks as a captive.
But Nicola Calipari, the international operations chief of Italy's military intelligence service who masterminded her release, was shot and killed by US troops at a checkpoint as Sgrena was being driven to Baghdad airport.
In January Liberation correspondent Florence Aubenas and her translator, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, were snatched outside a Baghdad hotel and are still missing.
And Christian Chesnot, a freelance journalist kidnapped in Iraq while working for Radio France International and Georges Malbrunot, Le Figaro's Iraq correspondent, were released just before Christmas, after more than four months in captivity.
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