BAGHDAD, Jan 28 (AFP): Iraq was grappling with a new surge Saturday in hostage-taking a day before the trial of Saddam Hussein resumes, as two seized German engineers pleaded for their lives and the fate of a US hostage remained uncertain.
Sunni Arab leader Adnan Dulaimi, who US reporter Jill Carroll was on her way to meet when she was snatched January 7, expressed hope she would be freed following the US release of a number of Iraqi female detainees.
"I renew my appeal to the captors of the American journalist to free her immediately following the release of the Iraqi detainees, as they no longer have any argument" to hold on to her," he said.
The US and Iraqi authorities on Thursday released 419 detainees held without trial, of which five were women. Four Iraqi women continue to be held in US-Iraqi run prisons.
The US authorities have, however, denied there was any link between the release of the five women and Carroll's abduction and say they have no new information about the hostage.
Further releases are expected soon.
"A joint Iraq-US review board recommends the release of detainees and some more could be released in the near future," Lieutenant Colonel Guy Rudisill, spokesman of US detention facilities in Iraqi told the news agency.
He did not reveal whether the other four women will be among the next batch of detainees to be released.
Two German engineers seized in Iraq this week were seen Friday appealing to their government to save their lives, as Berlin strongly condemned their abduction.
The two men, snatched at gunpoint by men in army uniforms, were shown surrounded by four masked men brandishing assault rifles from a group calling itself Ansar al-Tawheed wal Sunnah (Followers of Unity and Prophetic Tradition).
Meanwhile the trial of Saddam will resume Sunday after it was postponed Tuesday.
The trial has come under a lot of flak from international human rights activists following reshuffling of judges.