Paris has urged militants holding a French engineer in Iraq to let him go, reminding his kidnappers that France has no troops in the country. The group has threatened to kill Bernard Planche unless France ends what it calls its “illegitimate presence” in Iraq. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazzy said Paris has long called for Iraq’s full sovereignty to be restored.
On the streets of Baghdad, there was little support for this latest abduction. “I call on the kidnappers to release not only the French hostage but all hostages in Iraq,” said one man. “Kidnapping gives Iraq a bad name abroad.” “He is just an engineer,” added another. “He has nothing to do with either the US forces or the coalition forces. He came here to serve the Iraqi people.”
Planche was taken hostage in Baghdad earlier this month. There are about 90 French nationals in Iraq, about half of whom work at the embassy. Unlike most foreigners, Planche, who worked for a non-governmental organistion at a water treatment plant, reportedly refused all offers of security at home.