11 days after the abduction of a German archeologist and aid worker in Iraq, Berlin still has no sign from the kidnappers and is far from optimistic the hostage will be released soon.
German authorities said Monday that all channels were being used in order to establish contact but confirmed that the whereabouts of Susanne Osthoff and her Iraqi driver were still unknown.
In the German capital, the special crisis team working day and night in a bid to make contact with the kidnappers of Susanne Osthoff has so far been without any success.
Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, on Monday conceded in an interview with the German TV channel N24 that the government still had no information about the fate of Osthoff. And he was not optimistic about the prospects for a quick solution:
Susanne Osthoff was seized on November 25. In a video released last Tuesday, the kidnappers threatened to kill her unless Germany stopped training Iraqi police.
"This is one of the most difficult situations a government can find itself in," said Bosbach. "The hostage's life must be saved, but we cannot give in to political demands."
His statements backed up the position taken by Chancellor Angela Merkel in an interview on public broadcaster ZDF Sunday. Merkel stressed that Berlin would do everything in its power to save Osthoff's life, but reiterated the government's refusal to give in to political blackmail.
"Fortunately, there is broad social consensus on this issue and across the political spectrum," she said.
In order to protect the hostage, the German government is unwilling to speculate either about the motives behind the kidnapping or the identity of the kidnappers.
"We are concerned that making this sort of information public would jeopardize out efforts," said Ruprecht Polenz, head of the Bundestag's Foreign Relations Committee.
Osthoff is a trained archeologist who has been doing aid work in Iraq for several years. The 43 year old convert to Islam was married to an Arab and speaks fluent Arabic.
In Osthoff’s home village of Glonn near Munich, people have been gathering for vigils. Candles have been lit at the entrance to the city hall right beneath a photo of Osthoff. The residents of the small Bavarian village are simply shocked, says the mayor Martin Esterl. He met Susanne Osthoff during the Iraq war in 2003 when she was about to set off for her first humanitarian trip to Iraq.
"I personally was very impressed by her," he said. "I got to know her as a woman who is strong-willed, who knows exactly what she wants and who is very committed to her mission of helping the Iraqi people. Susanne Osthoff seemed determined to pursue her goal without compromise."
I would consider every possible means of saving her life," he said, and called on Muslim leaders around the world to speak out against abuse of Islam's peaceful teachings.
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