DOC docid="AFA20030130.5910" sysid="ahd">
Threats Against American Journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan
Sulaiymaniya (Iraq) 1-30 (AFP) - A Kurdish official said today that American journalists were evacuated form the town of Sulaiymaniya today after they received threats from fundamentalist groups linked to al-Qaeda.
The source said fighters from the Kurdistan National Union evacuated 10 American journalists from the main hotel in Sulaimaniya and that non-American journalists stayed on.
The Kurdistan National Union announced it took this step because of threats by the Ansar al-Islam group which controls an area where Sharia law has been imposed.
This group is suspected to have links with al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.
Information circulating in recent weeks suggests that this group has carried out tests with chemical weapons.
The group, which includes Arab fighters who fought in Afghanistan, is accused of a series of attacks against the Kurdistan National Union which, along with its rival the Kurdistan Democratic Part, has controlled part of Iraqi Kurdistan since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.
After Washington and London's accusations of links between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime, predictions intensified about an anticipated American-British attack on Ansar al-Islam bases.
This group controls a small area between Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan and the Iranian border and is outside the northern Iraq no-fly zone imposed by the Americans and British.