KARBALA: Nearly 20,000 people have been kidnapped in Iraq since the beginning of this year alone, according to a report released on Wednesday. The survey, which underscores the massive social upheaval caused by rebel activity and increasing sectarian conflict, does not give the number of people killed. However, it says that 15,462 people have been wounded. The 19,548 people kidnapped includes 4,959 women and 2,350 children, according to the report prepared by a group of 125 non-governmental organisations and made public in the Shia holy city of Karbala. The high-profile seizure of foreigners in Iraq has numbered only a few hundred since the practice began two years ago and is usually aimed at scoring propaganda points against the US-led occupation. In contrast, the thousands of Iraqis being kidnapped are primarily the victims of political rivalry and of common criminal gangs seeking ransom. The report also finds that an estimated 6,877 families have been displaced from their homes, acknowledging that the true number of displacements is difficult to establish and that local authorities believe the figure could be as high as 10,000. On the general violence sweeping Iraq, the report says that 80 percent of […]

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