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2 Arrested in Germany For Involvement in Iraqi Embassy Takeover - 2002-08-24


Police in the German city of Hamburg said Saturday they had arrested two men in connection with last week's occupation of the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin. The matter has been passed to the Justice Ministry.

German police spokesmen released few details Saturday of the two men they are holding in custody.

All that's been made public is that the suspects were connected in some way with the storming and occupation of the Iraqi Embassy last Tuesday, where two top diplomatic officials were tied up and held at gunpoint for five hours, before police stormed the building.

One report in the German media says one of the men, identified only as Abu Qasi A., is considered a ring leader. The magazine Der Spiegel said he claimed to be a member of the little-known dissident group, the Democratic Iraqi Opposition in Germany, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

The magazine said he had sent faxes to news organizations claiming responsibility for the attack and that he also called the police from his mobile phone.

It said he claimed he had made the police an offer to end the siege peacefully, but that they failed to react.

In the end, police sent in special commandoes. They said they captured the five hostage-takers inside the building without spilling any blood.

As well as the two senior diplomats, the hostage-takers also briefly held another official and his wife before letting them go. Apparently they were suffering from the effects of the tear gas fired in the first minutes of the occupation.

When they were arrested, the occupiers were carrying a loaded pistol, tear gas guns, two electric stun guns and an ax. Shots were fired during the takeover of the embassy. But the occupiers said the gun that fired them was not theirs.

The arrested man reportedly - according to Der Spiegel - said the group occupied the embassy to draw attention to what he described as Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's daily acts of murder and to the way he said the embassy in Berlin terrorizes Iraqis living in Germany.

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