Masked Iraqi police prepare for operation to rescue hostages in the town of Madaen.
Masked Iraqi police prepare for an operation to rescue hostages in the town of Madaen, about 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Baghdad April 17, 2005. Hundreds of Iraqi forces took up positions around Madaen on Sunday in preparation for an operation to rescue Shi'ite hostages whom Sunni insurgents have threatened to kill, Reuters witnesses said. Iraq's al Qaeda wing said on Sunday the hostage crisis in Madaen near Baghdad had been fabricated to give Iraqi forces a pretext to raid the town and attack Sunni Muslims, according to an Internet statement. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani RCS/YH