Posted by Lilly from ? (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, August 20, 2002 at 12:56PM :
It's funny how they always mention that Iraq is *trying* to develop weapons of mass destruction. Do we grade for effort, now?
Anyway, thank you Germany, for being reasonable.
Siege, hostages at Iraqi embassy
Berlin police surround attackers who oppose Saddam
Police in riot gear secure the area around the Iraqi Embassy in a suburb of Berlin after an Iraqi opposition group took over the building Tuesday.
MSNBC NEWS SERVICES
BERLIN, Aug. 20 — A previously unknown Iraqi opposition group occupied the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin on Tuesday and took hostages, police said. The Iraqi ambassador was believed to be among the captives, they said.
TWO EMBASSY STAFFERS were injured when four to five members of the opposition group seized the building at around 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET).
Several hostages were taken inside the embassy, and the ambassador was in the building at the time, a police spokesman told reporters at the scene. He estimated that a total of about 10 people were inside the building.
"Iraqi opposition members tried to force their way into the embassy and then there were shots from the embassy," a police spokesman said.
A statement in the name of the group, which called itself the Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany, announced that "we are taking over the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin and thereby take the first step toward the liberation of our beloved fatherland."
"Our action is peaceful and limited in time," said the statement received by The Associated Press.
Police spokesman Joerg Nittmann said the injuries of the embassy personnel were caused by an irritant gas apparently used by the hostage takers, and not by gunshots.
Dozens of police moved in to seal off the embassy and surrounding streets in the elegant Zehlendorf neighborhood of the capital. A small group of officers in bulletproof vests and helmets was seen heading toward the embassy, which was out of sight behind trees.
In London, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress — a leading umbrella group for opponents of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein — said the group had no knowledge of the embassy incident.
He believed the Iraqi Democratic Opposition of Germany was a new group, founded several months ago. He said he was not familiar with its members.
Police went to the scene following an emergency call from local residents, a spokesman said.
Resident Manfred Charnow, who lives 50 yards from the embassy, said he believed he heard two volleys of shots at the embassy. But police could not confirm that shots were fired.
The Iraqi opposition spokesman in London, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the opposition "has never resorted to any violent action outside the country against the regime."
OPPOSITION TO WAR
The embassy takeover came as Germany has come out strongly against any U.S. military action against Iraq to remove Saddam, who is accused of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has ruled out Germany sending troops for an "adventure" in Iraq that he said could wreck the international anti-terror coalition and spark turmoil across the Middle East. Other key U.S. allies in Europe have expressed growing opposition as Washington debates action against Baghdad.
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