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Iraqi Security Forces Raid Hideout, Free Lebanese Hostage - 2004-08-02

A senior Iraqi government official says Iraqi security forces have rescued a Lebanese hostage and captured or killed several of his abductors. The official tells VOA that a preliminary interrogation of one of the suspects indicates he may be part of the al-Qaida-linked group that kidnapped and beheaded a South Korean translator in June.

Iraqi authorities say Iraqi security forces freed Lebanese businessman Vladimir Damaa after raiding the building where he was being held.

A senior adviser to the interim Iraqi interior minister confirmed the raid, which was first reported Sunday by the Lebanese foreign ministry in Beirut.

The adviser, Sabah Kadhim, tells VOA that Iraqi commandos captured at least two of the kidnappers. He calls it a success for the new Iraqi security forces.

"Even in the police force, as we proved yesterday, we released a Lebanese, we captured three people,? Mr. Kadhim said. ?One was killed, in fact, one was injured and the third person is being interrogated. And what we understand, in fact, is there is a confession that they were involved in the killing of the Korean hostage."

A group known as Tawhid and Jihad beheaded South Korean translator Kim Sun-il in late June. The group is led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and U.S. intelligence agencies believe it has ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Tawhid and Jihad has also claimed responsibility for killing several other hostages, including American contractor Nicholas Berg, who was kidnapped in April and then beheaded.

Few details have been made public about the raid that freed Mr. Damaa. Another senior Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press that it happened after a two-hour shootout with insurgents in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

A second Lebanese hostage abducted at the same time is still missing, and his fate is unknown.