Chinese abducted in Iraq. From AP, :
Armed men seized seven Chinese nationals in central Iraq, prompting appeals for their rescue by the government in Beijing.
The Chinese had entered Iraq from Jordan on Sunday and were taken later in the day in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the Beijing foreign ministry said on its Web site. State television said they were stopped en route from Jordan to Baghdad.
The Foreign Ministry called on Iraqi authorities to help find and rescue the seven. It warned Chinese nationals to avoid Iraq and called on those already in the country to tighten their security.
Fallujah has been the scene of fighting between United States forces and Sunni insurgents. Gunmen in the area have also abducted other foreign nationals, including three Japanese civilians seized by a group threatening to burn them alive if Japan does not withdraw its non-combat troops from Iraq.
Before the US-led attack that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, China had called for a “political solution” instead of war. Beijing, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, had described relations with Saddam’s government as warm.
More recently, Beijing has advocated sending a UN team back to Iraq to help restore stability.
The Chinese abductees, aged 18 to 49, were stopped on a highway to Baghdad from Amman, the Jordanian capital, according to state television, which made the abduction the top story on its midday national news. It said they did not work for China’s Communist Part-controlled government or a state company.
“Leaders of the party and nation are very concerned about this and have ordered the Foreign Ministry and embassies abroad to begin urgent rescue work to secure early freedom for our hostages,” the foreign ministry said on its Web site.