Three Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq

Three Romanian journalists have been kidnapped in Baghdad, a television station employing two of journalists said Tuesday.

The journalists, who went missing Monday, are reporter Marie Jeanne Ion and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci from Bucharest-based television station Prima TV and daily Romania Libera reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian.

They went missing the Iraqi capital shortly after an interview with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the newspaper's director Petre Mihai Bacanu told The Associated Press.

Prima TV reported that the three were kidnapped in Baghdad's al-Mansur quarter. Ion made a phone call to the newsroom, speaking a mixture of Romanian, Arabic and English, and telling colleagues that they were being kidnapped, the station said in a statement.

"Don't kill us, we are from a poor country and we have no money," the statement quoted Ion as saying.

She later sent a text message to the station, saying "Help, this is not a joke, we've been kidnapped."

Romania's President Traian Basescu, who was in Iraq and Afghanistan for two days visiting Romanian troops, said upon returning to Bucharest on Tuesday that his government was doing all it could to find the journalists. Basescu said Romania had sought the help of U.S.-led coalition authorities in Iraq.

Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said it was unclear what happened to the three, and that no one has contacted Romanian authorities demanding a ransom.

Romania has about 800 troops in Iraq and about 500 in Afghanistan.

Associated Press

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