Four employees of French Christian charity in Iraq missing

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PARIS: Three French nationals and one Iraqi working with a French Christian charity in Iraq have been missing since Monday, the group announced Friday.The four men with SOS Chretiens d´Orient (Christians of the Middle East) went missing near the French embassy in Baghdad, the organisation´s director Benjamin Blanchard told a news conference in Paris.

No ransom demand has been received as yet and no group has claimed responsibility for their disappearance, he added.

SOS Chretiens d´Orient has been working with persecuted Christians in Iraq since 2014 when Islamic State jihadists overran the province of Mosul, displacing tens of thousands of minority Christians and Yazidis.

It is principally active in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil, where many Christians sought refuge.The missing workers were in Baghdad “to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities,” Blanchard said.

They were also due to inspect the group´s activities in the city, including the opening of a new school.They left their hotel by car for a meeting “which posed no problem,” Blanchard said, adding that French and Iraqi authorities were working together to try locate them.

However they did not return and the charity sought in vain to contact them on Tuesday before contacting the French authorities early Wednesday.