Monday, April 18, 2005

Wildly Conflicting News Stories Out of Madaen

Accounts coming out of Iraq have placed the number of Shiite hostages reportedly held by Sunni terrorists in the Iraqi town of Madaen between 3 and 150 people. First reports said the hostages were all men, then that they were mostly women and children. But according to the Sunday issue of The New York Times, there never was a hostage crisis:
By this afternoon, Iraqi army officials were reporting that the crisis in Madaen, which had been narrated in a stream of breathless television reports and news agency stories, was nothing but a tissue of rumors and politically motivated accusations.
This is directly contradicted by the Monday edition of the Gulf Daily News which is reporting fighting and negotiations with the hostage-takers:
But the commandos held off from an all-out offensive, waiting for the result of renewed negotiations with the gunmen who, according to a defence ministry official, had put up "severe resistance".
And, also in a Monday edition, The Peninsula, out of Qatar, reports a partial rescue:
BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces raided a town in central Iraq yesterday and freed some 15 Shi'ite families being held hostage, an official said, after militants threatened to kill nearly 150 captives unless all Shi'ites left the area.
If The New York Times is wrong about this, it could be a huge blow following so closely on the Boston Globe story-fabrication scandal. The New York Times Company owns the Boston Globe.