Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Friday Thailand was reconsidering its military deployment to Iraq and would order the troops home if it remained too dangerous to carry out their humanitarian mission."
" The Thai military will remain in Iraq as long as they can carry out their humanitarian mission, but if they cannot then they will return ," Thaksin told reporters.
A contingent of 451 troops including engineers, medics and a surveillance platoon was sent to the central city of Karbala last September, as Thailand joined the US -led coalition after remaining neutral during the invasion of Iraq.
An international delegation including Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, set up to investigate the political situation in Iraq, has cancelled its trip.
Senator Nettle left Australia earlier today, but she will be intercepted when she reaches Bangkok to be told of the decision.
Senator Nettle's spokesman Jon Edwards says the escalating violence has left organisers with no other choice.
" The people whom Senator Nettle, together with international parliamentarians from around the world, was scheduled to meet will no longer be able to travel around Baghdad ," he said.
" The NG Os (non-government organisations) themselves, who were organising these meetings, are now trying to leave Baghdad because of the grave security situation ."
A British journalist has been released after being taken hostage in Iraq by two separate groups."
Stephen Farrell, the correspondent for the Times newspaper, says he was threatened with death after being abducted near Fallujah.
But he says he was freed when he managed to convince his captors that he was a genuine journalist.
" The first group who sees this very clearly appeared to be outlaws, bandits, robbers, thieves, who claimed to be part of the resistance, the fighters against the Americans ," he said.
" But half an hour later we ran into the people who called themselves the Mujahideen, clearly a very different group. Disciplined, organised, a chain of command and they took us away from our original captors, so we were abducted twice if you like ."
United States governor of Iraq Paul Bremer appointed a new Iraqi interior minister on Friday and appointed a Governing Council member to the new position of national security adviser."
Mr Bremer said Samir Sumaidy, a Sunni Muslim political independent on the Governing Council, had been appointed interior minister, replacing Nouri Badran, a Shiite, who resigned on Thursday.
Mr Bremer also said that Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, a Shiite independent on the Governing Council, would take on the newly created national security adviser role.
Thousands of Palestinians staged pro-Iraq rallies Friday to mark the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, calling on Iraqis to rise up against the United States in a holy war."
Following Friday prayers, thousands of protesters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip burned Israeli and US flags and chanted slogans against US President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
In Gaza City, about 2,000 Islamic Jihad supporters, including children holding the militant group's black flags, chanted "Death to America," and burned effigies of Bush and Sharon.
"Our message to the world, to our brothers in Iraq, we are fighting against the same enemies, the same occupation, we are fighting in the same battle," Mohammed al-Hindi, an Islamic Jihad leader, told reporters. "Our people in Palestine and our brothers in Iraq are slaughtered by the knife, the knife of Bush and Sharon."
An explosion echoed over north-east Baghdad on Friday and a plume of smoke rose from the area, but there was no immediate sign that it had been caused by a bomb, a Reuters witness said.
Some residents suggested that a rocket-propelled grenade fired in the air had caused the blast, near the Um al-Qura mosque where worshippers were gathered for Friday prayers.
Shiite Muslim militiamen have killed a British soldier after shooting down a drone over the southern Iraqi town of Amara, Iraqi police said on Friday."
Warrant officer Mohammad Attiya Obeid, who witnessed the incident, said: "At 10:15pm (local time), rebels opened fire on a pilotless aircraft and shot it down over a public park in the Hay al-Hussein area of Amara."
The rebels rushed to pick up pieces of the downed drone and took them as a trophy to the local headquarters of Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr, Mr Obeid told AFP.
Shortly afterwards, a unit of about 20 British soldiers arrived on the scene of the crash and the rebels opened fire "killing one British soldier and wounding two others," the police officer said.
We tell you that three of your children have fallen prisoner in our hands and we give you two options - withdraw your forces from our country and go home or we will burn them alive and feed them to the fighters
Residents started to flee the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday on the fifth day of ferocious street fighting between United States forces and Sunni Muslim insurgents in the western town, an AFP correspondent witnessed."
Men, women and children were fleeing on foot through backstreets and paths that cut through fields, carrying small bags, food and medicines.
Most were seen heading toward the nearby village of Naimiyah
Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat personally intervened on Friday to seek the release of two Palestinians kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq, his office said."
"President Arafat has contacted our brothers in Iraq and other international bodies and friends today to help in releasing the two kidnapped Palestinians, Nabil George Razouk and Ahmed Yassin Tikati, both held in Iraq," a statement said.
According to a Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem, the United States is handling the case of the two Arab residents of East Jerusalem, who were kidnapped Thursday by a previously unknown group in Iraq.
Everyone is apprehensive, there is some talk that April 9th and 10th are going to be bloody days. Most people haven't gone to work the last few days, although it seems that the rest of Baghdad is ?normal' (if you can define what normal is). There are rumours about preparations by slum dwellers for another looting spree against banks, governmental and public property similar to the one that took place last April, and I have already overheard youngsters in my neighbourhood joking about it and saying things like "This time we will be the first to loot, we didn't get anything the last time".
Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne , commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, said his forces were given the go-ahead to resume offensive operations.
The halt was called at noon to allow a delegation from the city to meet with U.S. commanders, let humanitarian aid into the city and give city residents a chance to tend to their dead.
Byrne did not know why the suspension was called off but believed the negotiations with the delegation never took place. It was not immediately known if offensive operations had actually resumed
Witnesses in Haye Al-Jolan, an area in the northern section of Fallujah, said five Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded in a firefight that began when Marines raided homes there. Ten homes were said to have been destroyed in the battle.
In another area, U.S. Marines fired on two vehicles - a truck and a car - approaching a Fallujah checkpoint Monday morning, killing two Iraqis, sources said.