A Federal Government emergency response team is preparing to head to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/397/14812_iraq.html ' target=_blank>Iraq to try to secure the release of an Australian man who's been taken hostage there.
63-year-old Douglas Wood is the first Australian to be kidnapped in Iraq, and the hostage takers have released footage which shows him pleading for his life and asking for American, British and Australian troops to be withdrawn from the country. Mr Wood had been working for an American company in Iraq for the last 12 months, and while he's recently been a resident of the United States, Prime Minister John Howard says the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/01/31/2257.html ' target=_blank>Australian Government is "ultimately responsible" for him.
However, Mr Howard says he will not bow to the demands of the terrorists to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq, reports ABC News. According to FT News, Mr Wood’s abduction is the most high-profile kidnapping of an Australian since the invasion of Iraq two years ago. Describing his capture as a “despicable, disgraceful act,” the government is bracing itself for a fresh public backlash against its involvement in the war.