Lankan hostage forced to go to Iraq
Dinesh Rajaratnam, 36, is a Hendala resident who went to Kuwait for employment. He complained to his employer that he was earning a pittance, compared to what he was promised. They wanted him to work in Iraq to earn more.

Today he is a hostage in the hands of a militant group known as Ansarul Sunnah. He was kidnapped by the Iraqi group on Thursday along with a Bangladeshi truck driver.

The family members were first told by a neighbour about the news reports appearing on television and thereafter they had awaited for the newspapers yesterday to get further confirmation.

As the family members of Mr. Rajaratnam yesterday rushed to the local job agency in Grandpass, Colombo they were rudely turned away. "We were told that the agency cannot take responsibility as they had not sent him to work in Iraq," Mr. Rajaratnam's wife told The Sunday Times last night.

The confirmation that Mr. Rajaratnam had been abducted came when Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Kuwait contacted the Kuwaiti transport company's Managing Director Azin Kourah, and sought clarifiction.

However, it was not clear as to how the Kuwaiti company had sent Mr. Rajaratnam on a mission to Iraq without proper authority. A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Colombo said that an appeal for the release of Mr. Rajaratnam would be made today.

Earlier yesterday, Sri Lanka was involved in an intensive multi-pronged diplomatic effort to identify and rescue Mr. Rajaratnam. Leading the rescue mission was Amanullah Farook, Sri Lanka's Lebanon Ambassador, who also oversees Iraqi affairs as Sri Lanka has no mission in Baghdad.

Ambassador Farook told The Sunday Times by telephone yesterday afternoon they could not do much on Friday as it was a weekly holiday but an all-out effort was launched yesterday.

Ambassador Farook said Sri Lanka's Kuwait envoy A.R. Munsoor was in touch with the Al Jasim Transport company for which the Lankan worked. In Colombo, Foreign Ministry officials were in contact with the Bangladeshi mission to get more information as the other truck driver kidnapped with the Sri Lankan was a Bangladeshi.

Bangladesh on Friday released the identity of its national taken hostage in Iraq and called for international help to rescue the man. The government identified the captured man as 42-year-old Abul Kashem, who it said had been working for a Kuwaiti company for about five years.

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