15 years of brutal killing of 12 Nepalese workers in Iraq

Nepalis killed in Iraq

It has been 15 years since the brutal killing of 12 Nepalese workers in Iraq by an Iraqi militant group called the Army of Ansar al-Sunna.

On August 31, 2004, the Iraq-based Sunni insurgent group which fought against US troops during the Iraq War posted a chilling video footage on a website related to Iraqi militant group which showed savage killings of the Nepali workers who were working as cooks and cleaners for a contracting Jordanian firm.

In the video, a masked militant slits and beheads a blindfolded man lying on the ground with his armed bound behind his back with a sharp knife. He then displays the head to the camera and places it on the decapitated body. Then a militant shoots the rest of the 11 men lying on a sandy ditch with face down on their back with an assault rifle.

The shadowy militant group had claimed responsibility for the killings of the  Nepalis on the website along with the video and some still images.

The Ansar al-Sunna Army had claimed they abducted the Nepalese workers on August 19 from the highway near Ramadi when they were traveling on two cars crossing the border from Jordan. The Nepalis were on their way to the American-occupied Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province located about one hundred miles west of Baghdad.

The militant group then released a photograph of the 12 men who were assembled before a large black banner which bore Abraic characters in white. One of them sat in the center draped in an American flag.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs mobilized its missions across the Middle- East making several diplomatic efforts for the release of the 12 innocent Nepalis.

The insurgent group then released another video which showed one of the captives, draped in an American flag, desperately trying to read out loud a statement handed by the group, which denounced America, which read, “America assured us the situation in Iraq is under control. But they lied to us. The situation here is not under American control,” while the rest surrounded him holding their passports.

Then another footage was released which showed the 10 of the Nepalis taken hostage individually speaking to the camera in their mother tongue in front of a black banner.

This was the last video of the before the release of the footage of brutal killings of all the captives.

The insurgent group had also warned Nepal to stop sending workers to Iraq while threatening, “Anyone working with the US force would bear the similar fate”.

The then Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat strongly condemned the “terrorist act”.

Although Nepal had banned its people to work in Iraq due to security reasons, a large number of Nepalis worked there as laborers, cleaners, cooks and security guards illegally. Around 17,000 Nepalis were believed to have worked there at the time.

The killing, which also marked the largest number of foreign hostages killed by the extremist group in Iraq, prompted waves of protest across Nepal, including the capital city. Almost all the manpower companies and mosques became the targets of the protestors. The Home Administration had imposed a curfew to take the situation under control.

A report unveiled by the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies showed damage of properties worth Rs 750,000,000 during the protest.

The government had provided Rs 1.6 million to the family of the 12 victims killed in Iraq as compensation.