Thursday, August 23, 2007

Afghanistan - German hostage in video plea

Hostage: Blechschmidt, "I am in very bad shape"

A German taken hostage over one month ago, has appeared in a video released by his kidnappers. Rudolph Blechschmidt is one of two Germans and five Afghans who were seized by militants in Maidan Wardak province on July 18, a day before insurgents in neighboring Ghazni province abducted 23 South Koreans from a bus. In the video he said, "I ask my friends, my family, my two sons to put more pressure on the German authorities in order to get us free." He also said his heart medication would soon run out. His colleague, 43-year-old Ruediger Diedrich, was found shot dead 3 days after the kidnapping [CNN].

Afghanistan has also seen more coalition casualties this month. Two Canadians along with their interpreter died Thursday bringing Canadian losses to 71 since November 2001. A total of 16 coalition troops have died this month alone. The numbers have risen sharply over the last two years. In the first three years of conflict the numbers of coalition casualties reached a maximum of 68. In 2001, 12 were lost in the two months of conflict. Between 2002 and the end of 2004, a total of 183. But numbers of troops lost in 2005 rose to 130. The following year the figure rose again to 191. This year has already seen 144 fallen in battle; shot by snipers, killed in helicopter crashes or blown up by road side bombs. Two thirds of the losses are American, but British and Canadian forces have collectively lost 141 in the continuing violence.

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